MORE than 500 elderly people are on a waiting list for a nursing home despite being passed for financial assistance, new figures show.
It is taking a month for funding to issue, from the date that the person was first placed on the list, as needing a nursing home place.
The figures come amid concerns about longer delays for those needing admission to a nursing home in 2014 after the HSE decided to take €23m in funding from the Fair Deal scheme and put it towards community care instead. The Fair Deal scheme provides financial support for people who undergo a means test and an assessment to determine if they should be admitted to a nursing home.
The total budget for long-term residential care was €994.7m in 2012, €974m in 2013 and is €939m for 2014.
The target in 2013 was to provide financial support for 22,761 people needing a nursing home place but this falls to 22,061 this year.
The HSE decided that €23m is being transferred from the scheme to provide additional community services, with a view to allowing more older people to be supported in their own homes and communities for longer. It says this reorientation is in line with government policy and with the expressed wishes of older people.
At the end of October 2013, 1,434 applications for the scheme were in the process of being determined. At that time, each application was taking almost four to six weeks to process. Age Action Ireland says it is not clear what will happen to the 700 to 1,700 people who will not get a nursing home bed this year and how they will be cared for.
Meanwhile, Health Minister James Reilly recently revealed the Department of Health was looking at using NAMA-controlled hotels as transition centres for patients who can be discharged from hospital but need physiotherapy and other supports before returning home.