'Top-up charges' on elderly are shameful
Another day, another tale of elder abuse. This time, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has revealed how elderly people in care and their families have been enraged by unfair top-up charges.
There is the case of an elderly woman, who is blind, being levied €2 per day for a newspaper which the poor woman cannot read. The case screams out from a range of angry complaints from elderly people and their families covered by the Fair Deal scheme.
The focus is on the controversial additional charges imposed by private nursing homes. In some cases cited, frail or elderly people are not able to avail of social activities covered by the charges. Others are paying for services which are not provided, according to documentation obtained under Freedom of Information.
In one case, top-up charges are as high as €70 per week, despite the resident contributing the bulk of the State pension towards care costs under the Fair Deal scheme.
In another home, residents were charged €31 a week extra for an activity programme which was not delivered for six months due to the departure of two co-ordinators.
Residents were instead "wandering around" during the day and were "forced" to listen to tunes like 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do'.
Another complaint sadly detailed how a resident, faced with the extra bills, opted to stay in their room and not take part in activities such as baking, bingo or card games.
All of this is a profound injustice visited upon some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
It is good that Hiqa is being alerted. But it is no good if these problems are not tackled quickly. A bit of comfort and peace for our elderly is a minimal civilised requirement.