Thursday 22 August 2019

Blind nursing home resident is charged €2 a day for newspapers

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A blind resident in a private nursing home is being charged €2 a day for newspapers in top-up charges.

The revelation is among a range of complaints made by residents in the Fair Deal scheme about additional charges imposed by private nursing homes.

In some cases, complaints to the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) claim frail or elderly people are unable to take part in social activities covered by the charges or are paying for services not provided, documents obtained under Freedom of Information show.

In one home, the top-up charge is as high as €70 a week even though the resident is contributing the majority of their State pension to meet the cost of their care under Fair Deal.

The disclosures reveal that in one home residents are charged €31 a week extra for an activity programme that was not delivered for six months after the departure of two coordinators.

Another complaint detailed how a resident, who was faced with the extra bills, just wanted to stay in their room and not take part in activities such as baking, bingo or card games.

Other grievances include complaints that the grab bars in the toilet are not "fit for purpose and the bath is out of order".

Others claim a nursing home introduced top-up charges which were not set out in the contract of care as they should be.

Another home relies on agency staff for the kitchen. Breakfast can be served at different times, causing some residents to become disorientated.

Lack of space in many nursing homes is an ongoing source of complaint to Hiqa.

Despite the revelations in the Irish Independent and reports by advocacy groups for older people, the Department of Health, which has long known about the distress caused by top-up charges, was unable to say what progress was being made in tackling the issue.

Hiqa is involved in drawing up a new contract which residents would sign detailing the charges and providing more consumer protection.

A spokesman for Nursing Homes Ireland said it had distributed a guide which private nursing homes can give residents explaining the background to the charges and the individual's rights.

Private nursing homes say the State fees they are paid for each resident in the Fair Deal scheme do not cover a range of services needed to provide a proper quality of life for older people.

Grievances against nursing homes

  • €2 a day charge for newspapers for resident who is blind and cannot read.
  • €200 is charged for activities but resident does not take part. Initially nursing home levied €15 a month.
  • Charges levied against resident for religious services - however "these are provided free".
  • The choice of food on the menu is limited. Food is not always nutritious.
  • Lack of space.
  • Concern about staffing levels in the evening and the impact it has on the quality of life.
  • Toilet floor very dirty.
  • Smoking area is a safety risk at front roadside.
  • Breakfast served at different times, causing resident disorientation.
  • Extra charges being levied were not included in contract of care.
  • €31-a-week charge but no activity co-ordinators.
  • Security codes have been placed on all doors restricting residents and visitors.
  • Lack of appropriate treatment of wounds.
  • Extra charge for an alarm mat at €600 and hip protectors costing €80.

Irish Independent

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