Tuesday 15 October 2019

Fury over plans to phase out nursing homes in 20 years

Minister blasted for 'derogatory' and 'ill-informed' comments

Minister for Older People Jim Daly. Picture: Arthur Carron.
Minister for Older People Jim Daly. Picture: Arthur Carron.
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Minister for Older People Jim Daly has become embroiled in a furious row with the nursing home industry over his plans to replace the traditional model of care with retirement villages.

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) wrote to the minister expressing the organisation's "fury and severe disappointment" over what they described as "derogatory" and "ill-informed" comments. The minister hit back, saying the industry's fury will not "influence" or "deter" him from reforming care for older people.

Last week, the minister told the Sunday Independent that he hoped to replace all of the country's nursing homes with retirement villages within the next 20 years.

Three days after his comments, the nursing homes industry lobby group held an emergency meeting to discuss the minister's plans.

After the meeting, NHI's chief executive Tadgh Daly sent a scathing letter to the minister to "put on record" the industry's "extreme anger and disappoint" with his comments.

Tadgh Daly said the industry was calling on the minister to "apologise, retract and clarify" his remarks about nursing homes.

"On behalf of the staff in our nursing homes across Ireland, residents and their families, we place on record our fury and severe disappointment with your ill-informed comments," Mr Daly said

"For staff to read of you, the Minister with ultimate responsibility for their 'portfolio', speaking about nursing home care in a, frankly, derogatory manner has proven extremely upsetting," he added.

The NHI chief executive said the industry "utterly refutes" the minister's description of people in nursing home care as "loved ones sitting in a chair, head thrown sideways and their mouth open".

He said the portrayal suggested nursing home residents were being neglected and not provided with proper stimulation or activities.

He also said it was "shocking" that nursing home care was compared with institutional care of 50 years ago, which was a reference to the minister saying the number of people in inpatient mental health services has dramatically reduced.

He also noted that the minister's comments were at odds with an address he made at the nursing home industry's Annual Care Award three days before he was interviewed by the Sunday Independent.

The minister responded to the NHI chief, saying he would not be retracting or apologising for his comments.

The Sunday Independent understands the minister said he respected the work of the nursing home industry but insisted the care provided to people in their later years needs to evolve and reform.

He said the Government's long-term plan for care is to ensure older people can have their own front door for as long as possible. The minister said he is willing to meet Mr Daly to discuss the matter further.

Sunday Independent

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