Wait for nursing home place under Fair Deal is 'up to three months'
Older people who are approved for the Fair Deal scheme are having to endure delays of up to three months to get placed in a nursing home, it emerged yesterday.
The scheme which subsidises long-term residential care is under growing strain due to rising demand and rationing of funding.
Although the promise is that anybody accepted should wait no more than a month for a place this is now being pushed out to three months in a number of areas, said Mary Butler, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on older people.
The Irish Independent revealed last month an internal HSE memo told officials they must stick rigidly to the allocation of a set number of convalescent and long-term nursing home places a week.
It said: "If a client is not approved this week they are placed on a waiting list and they may or may not be approved the following week. This is country wide now."
Ms Butler said "the rapid increase in the waiting times over the past two months is extremely worrying, and should act as a red flag for the Minister for Older People Jim Daly coming into the winter.
"Unless these backlogs are addressed the situation will escalate and we could see a situation whereby more than 1,000 people will be waiting on a place come the autumn.
"The system will simply not be able to cope under that pressure and families will pay the price.
"I have been receiving calls from families right across the country who are at the end of their tether because they do not know when their loved one will be assigned a place.
"In many cases their relatives are being forced to stay in hospital, despite the fact that they are well enough to be discharged, because they are still waiting on the Fair Deal scheme to secure a bed for them."
Mr Daly said the HSE planned to support 23,042 people this year under the Fair Deal scheme which has a budget of €985.8m.