Friday 19 January 2018

Hiqa looks at 'hidden' nursing home fees

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Philip Ryan and  Maeve Sheehan

Health watchdogs will be given new powers to examine the accounts of nursing homes under radical Government proposals aimed at clamping down on hidden costs within the industry.

Minister for Older People Jim Daly said he wants the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to review nursing homes charges after the Sunday Independent revealed concerns over the hidden cost of social service packages.

The minister's proposals effectively mean private nursing home operators will have to disclose for the first time what, if any, profits they make from the mandatory extra charges they levy on residents.

Mr Daly said that he has asked the industry association, Nursing Homes Ireland, about preparing "profit and loss type" accounts for social care charges.

"They have stated they are quite happy to ask their members to comply with such a request," he said.

"I will explore the possibility with Hiqa this week of having them examine the expenditure by private nursing homes on social care activities compared to the amount of monies collected by nursing homes towards these costs, as part of their ongoing inspections of care homes."

The Sunday Independent has also learned that Hiqa is already in talks with the Department of Health about changing legislation to ­introduce greater protections for older residents in its nursing home contracts.

The amendments would empower the health regulator to examine additional nursing homes fees, which are currently outside of its remit.

Sunday Independent

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