Thursday 22 February 2018

Private homes to disclose profits on extra fees

Minister for Older People Jim Daly. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister for Older People Jim Daly. Photo: Tom Burke

Philip Ryan & Maeve Sheehan

Private nursing homes will be asked to disclose to the regulator any profits they make in fees for 'social programmes' and other services, under measures proposed by Minister for Older People Jim Daly.

He said he will "explore the possibility" of asking the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to examine what private nursing homes actually spend on social activities and what they collect in social care fees.

The minister's proposals effectively mean that 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. It follows a week of controversy sparked by a Sunday Independent investigation that revealed fees of €25-€95 a week for "social activities".

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People said he had 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 learned that Hiqa is already in talks with the Department of Health about changing the legislation to introduce greater protections for residents in their nursing home contracts. In a statement to the Sunday Independent, Hiqa said it is specifically concerned about residents being charged for services they cannot avail of and, "more worryingly", for "services that they are already entitled to receive for free". Nursing Homes Ireland said it had "long argued that private operators must contend with stringent Hiqa regulations, that the fees they receive per resident under Fair Deal are ad hoc, unfair and far less than is paid to public nursing homes".

Sunday Independent

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