Extraordinary Delays in Fair Deal Funding - NHI Pre-Budget Submission

 

Extraordinary Delays in Fair Deal Funding - NHI Pre Budget Submission

2,007 on waiting list with 14-16 week wait for Fair Deal funding

Sector could create 10,000 new sustainable jobs in Government tackled the crisis

 

Monday 06th October 2014: In their pre-budget submission for 2015, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI), the representative organisation for Ireland's private and voluntary nursing home sector, has raised concerns regarding the extraordinary delays in accessing nursing home care, with 2,007 people (as of last week) on national waiting list for funding under the Fair Deal.

Mr Tadhg Daly, CEO of NHI, said the latest HSE Performance Report shows that 78.4% of delayed discharges within acute hospitals relates to those awaiting long-term nursing care. “The knock on effect is much worse than expected and is a direct result of a €35m reduction to the 2014 Fair Deal Scheme budget. A Department of Health briefing to Minister Varadkar seriously under-estimated the outcome, when it said the reduction in the number of persons being able to access nursing home care ‘will be in the region of approx... 900 people’.”

“We believe our concerns are borne out by comments from the HSE's Dr Tony O'Connell, National Director of Acute Services, reported in today’s news. Dr O’Connell speaking at the IHCA (Irish Hospital Consultants Association) Annual Conference on Saturday last, stated that hospitals are often hindered in freeing up beds because patients fit for discharge cannot get a nursing home place due to cut backs. The media report today confirms that it costs hospitals twice as much to care for these patients than in a private nursing home.” Mr. Daly said.

The waiting list for financial approval has increased by 25 per cent since July, standing at 2,007 people waiting now. The trend in waiting lists since February has been to show a trebling of numbers and of financial approval times.

  • In February of this year, there were 654 waiting, with 29 days to get financial approval.

  • In April, there were 913 waiting and 6 weeks for financial approval.

  • In May it was 1,265 and 7 to 8 weeks approval times.

  • In June it was 1,465 with 12 weeks for financial approval.

  • In September it was 1,753 and 14 weeks for financial approval.

  • Latest figures issued this week details show 2,007 waiting and 15 weeks at least for financial approval.

“The reduction in this year’s Fair Deal budget has led to a shocking increase in the number of older persons remaining in acute hospital care and there is now an average wait of four months for funding approval to access nursing home beds. Nursing Homes Ireland are also deeply concerned at reports. There is an opportunity for Minister Varadkar to deliver reassurance to older people by reversing cuts to the Fair Deal budget and ensuring that the Fair Deal scheme is adequately funded in the year ahead,” Mr Daly said.

The Government has other challenges in ensuring proper care for older people. A new report from CBRE says that numerous HSE nursing homes will be unable to comply with new regulations due to come in by the end of next year and will be forced to close as a result. With no new construction in the sector for years, CBRE warns there will be a huge shortage of beds once that happens which will add to the crisis for older people. Before the end of 2015, nursing homes across the country must be fully compliant with the 2009 the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) standards for physical environments. The requirements include standards such as a minimum floor space per single room, no more than four residents per shared room and a suitable ratio of toilets and baths per resident.

The forthcoming budget presents an opportunity for Government to give clear signals to the nursing home sector to meet the increasing demand and challenges of nursing home care.
“Independent analysis conducted by BDO, in their report, ‘Health’s Ageing Crisis: Time For Action, A Future Strategy for Ireland’s Long-Term Residential Care Sector’, found that demand for nursing home beds is now exceeding supply in parts of the country. The report predicts a shortfall in the number of nursing home beds of approximately 4,000 beds in two years (2016) and 8,000 beds by 2021. This is backed up by the Department of Health briefing to Minister Varadkar, which projected a 7,600 bed shortfall by 2021,” Mr Daly warned.

To address the long-term projected shortfall in nursing home beds, in addition to adequately funding the Fair Deal Scheme, considerable investment is required to ensure the building of additional nursing home accommodation. To support this necessary investment, NHI is calling on the Government to reform the VAT system by introducing a VAT rebate for nursing home expenditure, incurred in a defined period for the construction cost of new nursing homes and the expansion of existing nursing homes.

Another key budget recommendation from NHI is that the Employment and Investment Incentive scheme (EIIS) should be extended to the nursing homes sector to protect the 24,000 plus direct jobs it provides, in addition to supporting the creation of up to 10,000 sustainable jobs. This measure would also help to stimulate the investment required to meet the increasing residential care needs of our ageing population.

“The demographic trend in Ireland is towards a significant increase in our elderly population. To ensure there is adequate nursing home support available now and well into the future, NHI is calling on the Government to develop policy initiatives that will address the sector’s growth requirement and provide the support needed to bring about lasting benefits to the health system,” Mr Daly said.

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