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Wednesday November 9, 2022

Nursing Homes Ireland Says Minister Butler Needs to Correct Comments

9th November 2022: Nursing Homes Ireland has said Minister for Older People Mary Butler misrepresented the reality of nursing home residents dependency levels to justify a flawed scheme for nursing home resident care.

Speaking during an interview with RTE Radio yesterday evening, Minister Butler offered the reason for the very significant fee differential between HSE nursing homes, which get much higher rates, and private and voluntary nursing homes is because HSE nursing home residents have more complex care needs. This is incorrect and needs to be corrected.

A report commissioned and published by Government last December contradicts the Minister’s pronouncements. A Value For Money Review of Nursing Home Care Costs was commissioned by Government to identify, quantify and analyse the reasons for the exorbitant cost differential between HSE and private and voluntary nursing home care costs. It determined  HSE nursing homes were availing of fees that were €692 per resident, per week, above that payable to private and voluntary counterparts. Considering dependency levels of residents, the report said: “It has long been assumed that public nursing homes have a larger cohort of higher dependency/high complexity residents than their private sector counterparts. This assumption is based on anecdotal evidence only as there is no single assessment tool used to determine the individual care needs of residents in nursing homes. The study, undertaken as part of this Review attempted to test this assumption, found no discernible difference in care needs between the sectors.”

Furthermore, in 2015, the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre published An Irish National Survey of Dementia in Residential Care. It represented the first comprehensive assessment of the provision of specialist dementia care within long-term residential. The report states: “Curiously, HSE operated facilities which receive the highest payments for care from the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal) because they are said to accommodate those with highest dependency needs were more restrictive than other providers in relation to admission criteria and were more inclined to refuse admission to those not independently mobile.”

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states: “It is disingenuous and inaccurate to state HSE nursing homes are providing care to residents with more complex care needs. Every resident assessed under the Fair Deal scheme has high-dependency healthcare needs, requiring the 24/7 specialised care that nursing homes provide. A Government report published less than a year ago contradicts pronouncements now being made to seek to justify the utterly exorbitant difference in fees payable to HSE nursing homes under the Fair Deal scheme. Under the scheme, private and voluntary nursing home fees are set by the NTPF without a model in effect to justify the care costs as being commensurate with the reality of resident care needs. HSE nursing homes set their own fees, and are availing of approximately €700 per resident, per week, more than counterparts in private and voluntary nursing homes. Seeking to justify such by misrepresenting the reality of the care needs of residents in private and voluntary nursing home care is disingenuous and inaccurate.”

Minister Butler pointed to the Fair Deal scheme being worth €1 billion. Approximately one-third of the budget is expenditure for HSE nursing homes which provide care to fewer than one in five residents.

Mr Daly concluded: “There are care providers and staff across the country under extreme pressure given they are tasked with providing care for fees that are completely removed from the reality of the current cost environment. It is extremely disappointing, upsetting and inaccurate for the Minister to insinuate the care needs of residents in private and voluntary nursing homes are not in keeping with those in HSE nursing homes. This does a disservice to the reality of nursing home care within the private and voluntary nursing home sector and her own Department commissioned report contradicts the assertion.  The Minister needs to correct the record and withdraw the claims.”

Media seeking further comment can contact Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications and Research Executive, at 087 9082970.

Note for Editor

Link to  Department of Health commissioned A Value For Money Review of Nursing Home Care Costs 

Link to Irish National Survey of Dementia in Residential Care