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Scheme to support nursing homes completely ill fit for purpose

Monday November 7, 2022

NHI to host EGM with cost crisis not addressed by Government

7th November 2022: Nursing Homes Ireland is to host an Emergency General Meeting of its membership following announcement by the Department of Health of a completely ill-fit-for-purpose scheme to support nursing homes in managing energy costs.

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states: “The scheme announced by the Department is completely removed from the reality of the huge hike in costs that nursing home resident care has incurred this past year. It is a wholly inadequate scheme. Given nursing home care is ultimately funded by the State through the Fair Deal scheme, we’ve engaged with the Department of Health since the beginning of the year, with cross-table consensus presenting regarding the requirement for the unprecedented increase in costs to be addressed. We are bitterly disappointed that months of engagement have manifested in the development of a scheme that is completely removed from reality. The evidence base presented to the Department has effectively been dismissed. The reality is the increased cost per resident, per week, over the course of a year has been independently assessed as being on average €194 and the scheme represents €15 per resident per week over the limited period it will be in effect. It is appalling that the Department and Government just does not recognise the crisis that is presenting for nursing home care and broader older person, health and social care. Non-recognition of the increase in non-energy costs is ignorant of Government pronouncements regarding the spillover effect energy costs are having on the likes of food, beverage and other business and societal costs. The consequences of the failure of Government to effectively address the crisis will be far-reaching ”

At the behest of the Department of Health, in June NHI presented it with an independent cost analysis that informed the average cost per resident, per week, had increased by €194 per resident year-on-year. The analysis encompassed a representative sample of nursing homes. Yet the scheme being introduced by the Department effectively represents a maximum average €15 contribution per week, per resident.

16 nursing homes have closed their doors to date in 2022, with the regulator HIQA having cited closures as manifesting because resourcing is not commensurate with the reality of resident care costs on a long-standing basis. The announced Temporary Inflation Payment Scheme (TIPS) will not deter the closure of further nursing homes. Given the extremity of the emergency presenting for nursing home care, an EGM is being called by NHI.

Mr Daly adds: “We’re faced with an unprecedented emergency for nursing home care in Ireland. Years of reports have informed the State’s Fair Deal scheme does not pay fees that recognise the reality of resident care costs, with no model in place to determine what the costs are. Fees are based on geographic and historical pricing arrangements. At the start of the year, we presented to Government a tipping point presented for nursing home care, warning closures would manifest given the exceptional cost environment nursing homes were operating in. Yet the State procrastinated in introduction of a support mechanism and today we are 16 closures in and presented with a scheme that is completely removed from the reality of cost pressures. When is the State going to sit up and pay heed to the reality that the specialised clinical, health and social care provided by nursing homes requires resourcing that tallies with what this entails. Over 40 nursing homes have closed the past four years and providers are in contact with us on a day-to-day basis informing of their struggle for survival. More nursing homes are anticipating closure in the weeks and months ahead. At our EGM we will discuss the effective abandonment of our sector by the State.”

The closure of nursing homes has broader implications for healthcare and society. Nursing homes fulfill an integral role in facilitating discharges from hospitals, providing short- and long-stay care for older people. As per HIQA, closures have knock-on effects for residents, particularly in terms of visitors, social activities and links to their preferred general practitioner (GP) or pharmacy.

Tadhg Daly is available for further comment. Interviews will be facilitated by Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications and Research Executive, who can be contacted at 087 9082970. 

Note for Editor 

  • At the request of the Department of Health, NHI commissioned JPA Brenson Lawlor to undertake an analysis assessing the impact of inflationary costs upon nursing homes. Presented in June, it projected, at a minimum, the average cost per resident per week increased by €194 from €940 in Q1 2021 to €1,134 in Q2 2022.