Tuesday 21 November 2017

People are 'regularly checking death notices in wait for nursing home beds'

Regional radio station producer also says it is 'extremely common' to receive calls after the death notices

Stock photo
Stock photo
Paddy O'Brien is actively involved with promoting elderly rights
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Nursing home beds are so scarce in Cork that people are checking the death notices in newspapers and calling the relevant care homes, it has been claimed.

Elderly rights advocate Paddy O'Brien has been campaigning for over 60 years and said his brother-in-law applied for a space in one Cork nursing home two years ago and still hasn't received a response.

Mr O'Brien, who was named Cork Person of the Year in 2010, also claimed that some nursing homes are refusing to take more names for waiting lists.

"People are reading the death notices because there's such a lack of beds. They are looking in the newspaper and then calling nursing homes to see if someone was resident in a home," he told Independent.ie.

"This has been confirmed to me by two homes, who say that if a resident passes away, their phones are ringing off the hook.

"The unfriendly part about the whole situation is that sick people who are in hospital, are being called 'bed blockers', but they're staying in hospital because there's nowhere else to go."

Paddy O'Brien is actively involved with promoting elderly rights
Paddy O'Brien is actively involved with promoting elderly rights

Producer of Cork Today on C103, John Paul McNamara, said it is extremely common for listeners to phone in after the death notices have been announced.

"It's been happening for years.

"Many people would ring up to see if such and such was in a nursing home, and what nursing home were they in. It's very morbid but it's always been the way - they are trying to find available beds," he said.

"Nationally the problem might not be as bad, but in concentrated areas of Cork it is."

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, is calling on the HSE to ensure more people can be moved to nursing homes.

"While the HSE has substantially reduced numbers of delayed discharges, with timely access to nursing home care playing a lead role in this regard, there must be a concerted focus upon ensuring the hundreds who continue to remain within hospitals can access beds that are available for them within their local nursing homes in an immediate timeframe."

NHI recently carried out a "snapshot survey" of beds available in nursing homes across Ireland and stated 176 nursing homes had 742 beds immediately available.

However, not all homes responded to the survey.

COUNTYNUMBER NHI MEMBERSNO OF N HOMES TO RESPOND TO SURVEYBED AVAILABILITY4 JANUARY 2017AVERAGEAVAILABILITY4 JANUARY 2017
Carlow53103.3
Cavan7231.5
Clare112178.5
Cork4515161.06
Donegal127182.5
Dublin94422355.6
Galway37151097.2
Kerry187101.4
Kildare2012594.9
Kilkenny114112.75
Laois43268.6
Limerick245214.2
Longford3100
Louth107182.5
Mayo156193.1
Meath176152.5
Monaghan5372.3
Offaly72126
Roscommon104123
Sligo5100
Tipperary266203.3
Waterford95112.2
Westmeath12362
Wexford126233.8
Wicklow199647.1

 

The issue of nursing home care has been highlighted in the media recently due to the controversy surrounding the Fair Deal scheme.

That scheme involves those who apply for it contributing a percentage of their income and assets towards their own nursing home care, with the State footing the rest of the bill.

Criticism of the scheme emerged after a senior HSE official claimed elderly people are being left in hospital beds by relatives worried about the impact on their inheritances.

The Department of Health confirmed the issue in relation to farms and small businesses is under review - but it is still unclear how soon a decision will be made.

At present, a family's payment is calculated based on 80pc of their annual income, as well as a 7.5pc annual charge on their overall assets. And assets that have been transferred within the previous five years are also means-tested.

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