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Over 720 'bed blockers' stuck in hospital wards due to lack of supports

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The Bloomfield Care Centre offers multi-disciplinary care

The Bloomfield Care Centre offers multi-disciplinary care

The Bloomfield Care Centre offers multi-disciplinary care

Overcrowded hospitals across the country have 724 patients occupying beds who are medically fit but waiting for proper step-down support, the Herald can reveal.

The vital support they require ranges from home-care to a nursing home place, specialist rehabilitation centres and home-adaptation needs.

However, the patients are stuck in hospital until they can be safely discharged.

It is a problem that worsened over the summer as the HSE had to ration funds for nursing-home care and home-care.

The number of so-called delayed discharges - previously known as bed blockers - reached an all-time high of 746 in recent months but the release of funding for more nursing- home places in the last fortnight has brought slight relief.

However, data obtained by the Herald shows the figure includes 76 of these patients in Beaumont Hospital, 64 in St James's Hospital and 41 in the Mater Hospital.

Pressures

It is also an issue outside Dublin, with another 29 patients occupying beds in Cork University Hospital, 22 in Limerick and 21 in Waterford.

Meanwhile, there are 18 delayed discharges in Letterkenny and 17 in Cavan.

As the pressures of the A&E trolley crisis escalate over winter, hospitals will be in dire need of extra beds.

The case of Triona Hanly, who suffers from the brain condition Huntington's disease (HD) and is now the longest patient in Connolly Hospital as she waits for a suitable specialist facility, highlights the range of difficulties faced by the HSE in finding step-down care for rarer conditions.

Patricia Towey, of the Huntington's Disease Association of Ireland, said: "Unfortunately there are other families in similar situations.

"There is a dearth of suitable long-term care facilities for people with progressive life- limiting neuro-degenerative conditions.

Symptoms

"Many nursing homes do not provide the necessary rehabilitative services and lack the capacity to cope with the myriad of symptoms, the complex needs of Huntington's disease patients, and the specific needs of younger people who may require extra support to maintain a sense of self and participate in meaningful activities," she said.

Bloomfield Hospital in Dublin offers multi-disciplinary care but "frustratingly for the families of loved ones in need of this service, it is increasingly difficult for people to get funding approval for this specialist service.

"In the last two years, families are being told there is no funding available.

"Despite this, there is an increasing number of people with HD throughout Ireland being forced to remain in acute hospital beds because there is no funding available for a more appropriate service."

Dr Niall Pender, a clinical neuropsychologist, runs a cognitive clinic at Beaumont Hospital - "otherwise there is little recognition in Ireland of people with HD requiring psychological and psychiatric services," he said.


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