Friday 20 October 2017

'Financial bullying' - HSE hikes nursing home fees for pensioner (90) by €514 per week

West Kerry Community Hospital
West Kerry Community Hospital

Kathy Armstrong

The HSE has shown no respect to an elderly nursing home resident by hiking her weekly fees by over €500 per week without warning, a relative claimed.

A resident of the West Kerry Community Hospital in Dingle was not informed in advance that the costs were going to jump three times this year - from €998 in December, to €1311 in January, €1459 in April and finally to €1512 in July.

The nephew of a woman (90) who has lived in the facility for several years has said he is worried the increases are taking a toll on her health.

The man, who does not wish to be named to protect his aunt's privacy, said: "She is not eligible for the Fair Deal scheme and last December she was paying €998 per week to live there.

"Since then the price has been increased three times and she now pays €1512 each week.

"She was never told in advance that the price was increasing any of the times and she doesn't know whether it could rise again.

"She made the point that if your ESB bill was to go up you would get a letter in advance to inform you and there would be a detailed breakdown of the costs.

"Sadly she has not been shown that respect by the HSE, it's financial bullying."

He said that his aunt is struggling to understand why the fees have been increased this much.

He said: "She's a very intelligent woman and she said that if the cost increased by €100 or €200 per week she could accept that but this seems excessive and unsustainable.

"She's 90-years-old and she's worked hard all of her life, we don't know when this is going to stop and this certainly effects her mental well-being."

He added that it would be hard for his aunt to move to a different home at this stage of her life.

He said: "It would be very difficult for her to change, she's very settled there.

"We appreciate that it's an excellent facility.

"I also want to stress that we have no criticism towards the Matron and her staff, who have all been very understanding and are not responsible for the increases."

Read More: Pensioners to pay lower charge for care in shake-up of Fair Deal

The concerned man said that he is determined to speak out for his aunt as he thinks she deserves answers from the HSE.

He added: "She has empowered me to follow this up and I'm only too willing to try and sort this out for her.

"I feel that the HSE has shown a lack of empathy and competence in this case.

"I'm sure there there are a lot more people in the same situation as my aunt but they might not have anyone to speak for them."

A spokeswoman for the HSE told Independent.ie: "In October 2016 the HSE published an up-to-date cost of care for public residential care centres for older people. 

"These costs are based on the actual cost of providing care and not on the amount the residents contribute themselves. 

"Once these costs were updated and published nationally all HSE facilities including West Kerry Community Hospital applied these charges to every resident based on each one’s ability to contribute."

She added that while she couldn't comment on this woman's circumstances, she said the HSE acknowledges there may be "communication deficits in a small number of cases."

She said: "The HSE is not is a position to comment on individual cases, however in cases where there has been a significant increase in charges the amount currently charged reflects the correct and equitable contribution based on the financial assessment and the legislation.

"The HSE acknowledges that there may have been communication deficits in a small number of cases however we have now responded in detail to any individual who has raised concerns with us."

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