Minister’s review of health service capacity must assesses nursing home sector capacity



Nursing home care has critical role to fulfil in meeting Minister’s primary care objectives


1,400+ beds presently available in nursing homes to facilitate timely discharges from hospitals


Nursing Homes Ireland has today, 1st January, called upon Minister for Health Simon Harris to ensure capacity within the private and voluntary nursing home sector is considered within the bed-capacity review being undertaken by his Department to assess health capacity requirements to 2031. Over the weekend, Minister Harris stated thousands of more beds will be required across our acute and community health providers.


NHI states over 1,400 beds are today available within private and voluntary nursing homes across Ireland to meet transitional and step-down healthcare needs of persons requiring discharge from acute hospitals. Utilisation of such beds can fulfil a lead role in alleviating pressures upon our acute hospitals and in fulfilling objective of meeting care needs within the community where possible presently and into the future, the organisation said. The HSE Service Plan for 2018 states “management of bed capacity within acute hospitals is challenged by the large number of delayed discharges”. Around two-thirds of the hundreds consistently awaiting discharge within our acute hospitals are awaiting long-term nursing care.  A survey undertaken by Nursing Home Ireland in the lead-up to Christmas has informed within 183 nursing homes 610 beds were available to provide specialist healthcare. Replicated across the 430 private and voluntary nursing homes operating across the country, this would entail over 1,400 beds being available.


Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO stated: “The Minister rightly points to the requirement to assess capacity of our health service to meet our population’s requirements now and into the future. The review being undertaken by his Department of capacity not just within the acute sector but also within the community cannot overlook the positioning of over 400 private and voluntary nursing homes to meet specialist healthcare needs within our communities. Nursing homes fulfil an essential role in enabling people to be discharged from hospital back into their local community. They can also fulfil an essential role in meeting primary care needs within our communities and deterring admissions to hospitals. The specialist staff employed within these dedicated healthcare settings meet not just long-term residential care needs, but also short-stay, transitional, rehabilitative and respite healthcare requirements of persons. Over 600 people are discharged from acute hospitals to private and voluntary nursing homes every month and tens of thousands are availing of the care provided by them direct from the community.  


“NHI has engaged with the HSE this Winter to inform of bed availability across the country, with private and voluntary nursing homes positioned to provide care within local communities that is most appropriate to people’s healthcare needs. NHI and our Members are willing and available to engage with the HSE and individual acute hospitals to facilitate timely discharges back into the community. “


Mr Daly also stated the difficulties in the recruitment and retention of frontline medical staff is not confined to the HSE and the Public Service Pay Commission must be cognisant of the implications for nursing home providers in treating the HSE in isolation, as advanced by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform last October.


He further advanced the requirement for the review of the Fair Deal pricing mechanism to be published in 2018. He said: “We are approaching the tenth anniversary of the inception of the Fair Deal scheme. When Fair Deal was introduced, the Government committed to review the scheme after three years. That review, which was delayed to 2015, highlighted substantial flaws with the Fair Deal pricing mechanism and recommended a further review be undertaken in this regard. That review was scheduled for completion last June but remains outstanding. Publication of the review can enable discussion and assessment of the Fair Deal pricing mechanism, a fundamental of the scheme, with view to introducing a fit-for-purpose funding model that recognises the high-dependency, specialist health and social care needs of nursing home residents.”  


Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO, is available for further comment. Contact Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive at 087 9082970.





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