Wednesday 11 December 2019

Nursing home fund scheme in delay crisis

Roscommon TD Denis Naughten
Roscommon TD Denis Naughten Newsdesk Newsdesk

OLDER people who face a four-month wait for nursing home funding later this year, will have to find €21,000 from their own pockets.

Independent TD for Roscommon, Denis Naughton, said lengthening delays in releasing Fair Deal funding will leave more older people in financial hardship.

Older people are currently waiting more than three months to access a bed under the nursing home support scheme, which is forcing them to occupy beds in hospitals that are already struggling to cope with emergencies and planned surgeries.

Mr Naughton said: "While over 1,500 older people have been approved for financial support under the Fair Deal nursing home scheme, they cannot receive payment towards the shortfall between their income and the nursing home cost until they reach the top of the three-month-plus national waiting list.

"Not only is this leading to chaos in our hospitals, but in some instances, it is also placing undue financial pressure on older relatives, adding to their fears and concerns.

"Based on average nursing home charges, families could be facing a bill of up to €21,000, while waiting for the nursing home application to be processed and then placed on the national waiting list."

Mr Naughton continued: "There is now a policy within the HSE of reducing the number of nursing home beds released, because the delay has gone from six weeks at the end of April to in excess of 12 weeks presently, and this is now set to rise to 16 weeks by the end of the year, which will cause additional financial distress for older people and their families."

A reduction in the budget for Fair Deal is having a very serious impact on very vulnerable elderly people, Nursing Homes Ireland confirmed.

Chief executive, Tadhg Daly, said: "The Department of Health says approval will move from seven to eight weeks to 14 to 16 weeks by year end. Older people who have been assessed by the HSE as requiring nursing home care are already waiting three months.

"It is leading to deterioration in older people's physical and psychological health. Delays are already serious."

Mr Daly said the upcoming Budget can deliver reassurance to older people by ensuring Fair Deal in the year ahead is appropriately resourced to ensure that they can access nursing home care in a timely manner. This must be a priority and must be grasped

"Ensuring this can lead to a positive impact upon health service delivery and spend," he added.

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