Monday 21 October 2019

Call to close gap in Fair Deal nursing home subsidies

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The average annual State subsidy for a resident of a HSE-run nursing home under the Fair Deal scheme is now €72,037.

The equivalent subsidy for a resident who avails of the scheme in a private nursing home is €35,020 a year.

The difference does not have an impact on what the resident pays, but Nursing Homes Ireland - representing private operators - said this amounts to a "gross inequity" and is contributing to the closure of businesses.

In a pre-Budget submission the organisation called for appropriate resourcing of the Fair Deal scheme to ensure residents receive specialist 24/7 health and social care.

It said that independent analysis highlights the scheme is not meeting the reality of cost of care for persons who require the specialist care that nursing home entails.

It warned that smaller nursing homes - which often provide a more homely environment - are closing voluntarily due to concerns over their financial viability.

Reasons cited for closure by providers included the sustainability of the financial model underpinning smaller centres and the cost implications of achieving regulatory compliance with standards set by Hiqa.

The organisation also warned there are 880 healthcare assistant vacancies in private and public nursing homes, and this could double by the end of the year.

This is because of more activity in nursing homes in the winter months and loss of summer staff.

This has been linked to an unavailability of staff and requirements to be addressed through removal of the role from the Ineligible Categories of Employment List for employment permits, allowing more workers from abroad to take up the jobs.

Irish Independent

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