Wednesday 18 September 2019

Almost 400 patients in beds waiting for nursing home spot

Pressure for care places amid sharp focus on costs of Fair Deal

Minister Jim Daly. Picture: Arthur Carron.
Minister Jim Daly. Picture: Arthur Carron.
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Up to 378 patients are stuck in hospitals, awaiting a place in a nursing home. The patients are occupying hospital beds even though they are well enough to be discharged.

It comes as hospitals continue to suffer overcrowding due to lack of beds, with 478 patients on trolleys yesterday, including 61 in University Hospital Limerick.

The HSE confirmed there are 620 patients in hospitals who are delayed discharges - people who are medically ready to leave but need suitable step-down care.

A spokeswoman said that 378 of those patients are awaiting placement in a nursing home although not all have yet submitted their application for financial subsidy to the Fair Deal scheme.

It emerged earlier this week that funding for the Fair Deal this year is coming under pressure as nearly 200 extra nursing home residents need support.

The numbers in the scheme are 23,228 compared to a HSE budgeted target of 23,042.

The HSE spokeswoman said that the Fair Deal approval process, once the application form has been fully completed, is currently being maintained at approximately four to five weeks.

"The Fair Deal budget for 2019 is €985.6m. Patients in acute hospitals are eligible to apply for transitional care funding.

"This funding is for transitional care beds which are short-term beds funded in private nursing homes to alleviate delayed discharges in acute hospitals.

"This service is available to people requiring a short period of convalescence or for patients who are waiting for their nursing home application to be finalised."

More people are applying to enter the Fair Deal scheme and there is a reduction in the number of people leaving it, said the spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, the waiting list for home care also remains high with around 6,000 people who were assessed as needing some level of home support in a queue at the end of February.

This includes new applicants and applications for increased home support.

"The HSE rigorously monitors and reviews these cases and, as home support hours become available, home support is provided based on clinical need. People who can be discharged from hospital, with home support, are prioritised for services," said the spokeswoman.

Around 52,000 people are receiving HSE home support at any given time.

A steering group which has been looking at how private and public nursing homes are paid for in the Fair Deal scheme is close to completing a report. Private operators have argued they need to be paid more to care for each resident in the scheme.

Each nursing home puts its case to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), which then decides what they should be paid.

The steering group is chaired by the NTPF and includes representatives from the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Minister for Older People Jim Daly said that as part of its work on the review, the NTPF sought various inputs, including external expertise and stakeholder engagement.

Any change to any part of the scheme must be considered in terms of its short- and long-term impact on the viability which must ensure accessibility to nursing home care, he added.

Irish Independent

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