Confusion on price list at Galway home
Additional charges being waived for residents, says manager
The confusion surrounding nursing homes and additional charges is underlined in the case of Corrandulla Nursing Home in Galway.
On September 6, Corrandulla was contacted by an undercover Sunday Independent reporter who told staff that he was researching nursing homes for an aunt who was preparing to go into long-term care. He asked for information on costs and additional charges that she would have to pay on top of her Fair Deal contribution.
Corrandulla's person in charge and director of nursing, Aishling Hayden-Abed, replied to our email and provided a residents' guide and 'additional charge information'.
"Should you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact me or one of my colleagues," she added.
The list of charges she sent was dated August 1, 2017, five weeks before our initial inquiry. It disclosed information of a €1.50-per-hour charge for rentable mobility equipment such as wheelchairs and walking aids. Personal use of a television was listed at €7 per week with an additional €3 per week for personal use of a radio.
According to the document, activities including art, live and recorded music, bingo, baking, reminiscence therapy, films, knitting and board games were charged at a rate of €10 per calendar month. Charges for escorted travel and transportation to and from the home were also listed beside costs for computer usage, internet access and telephone calls.
Our 'nephew' replied to the home seeking further information on the television charge.
"There is a TV in all rooms and in the three sitting rooms that the resident would have access to for free," said Ms Hayden-Abed.
"The charge is if someone wants an additional connection to the TV or wants it changed to a different type of TV."
Last week, the Sunday Independent contacted Corrandulla openly with details of our investigation and a number of follow-up questions.
The home said it had not implemented many of the charges included on the list. Nurse manager Michael Hayden added that the list of charges was not completed and was under review.
Mr Hayden said the price list sent after our initial inquiry was a "draft document of sample services that are not covered by the Fair Deal scheme".
However, there was no mention of this being a draft document or these charges being under review during our first exchanges with the nursing home.
"We believe that should residents be charged for services that are not covered by the Fair Deal but are compulsory, many would experience unnecessary hardship," said Mr Hayden.
He added that Corrandulla absorbed costs based on the relationship it has with its residents. He said it focused on residents rather than increasing revenue.
"Where some of our residents require non-compulsory/compulsory services they needed, rather than wanted, but could not afford, we have waived the costs and have paid for them from business/personal assets - as we have friendships with many long- term residents - which results in unnecessary financial costs for the business.
"I personally believe that if all nursing homes were paid the same amount, based on a country-wide average, instead of current pricing methods, the scope of the Fair Deal could be realistically expanded to include some, if not all, of the compulsory services and maybe even some of the non- compulsory ones," he added.
"Current National Treatment Purchase Fund pricing is not very negotiable. The prices offered are not linked to wages or inflation. Independent or small nursing homes are not the cash cows many people appear to believe, with many family owner-operated nursing homes trying hard to provide a home-like quality service that they can be proud of.
"As this nursing home has grown, we have expanded and improved the quality of our facilities, and have reduced our bed capacity."