Statement by Tadhg Daly, CEO, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) re ESRI ReportTuesday January 9, 2024
Statement by Tadhg Daly, CEO, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) re ESRI Report.
Nursing Homes Ireland welcomes the ESRI report “Long-Term Residential Care in Ireland: Developments since the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic”. Establishing a sustainable long-term care system for older people remains the priority of the NHI. We applaud the ESRI for recognising the very difficult impact Covid-19 had on nursing home residents, and the caring committed staff who moved heaven and earth to keep residents safe.
ESRI rightly calls out too that the Government needs to put in place policies that harmonise financial incentives for nursing home providers with the primary objective of fulfilling residents’ health and social care demands within a more integrated care environment. This is consistent with NHI calls over a number of years and the lack of action continues to place a black cloud over the sector, threatening it in an extreme way. The ESRI report highlights a reduction of 336 beds from the beginning of the pandemic. HIQA recently reported 60 nursing home closures between 2018 and 2022 which is having an impact on older people and their families throughout Ireland, with people having to travel further to access care and for families to visit residents. More nursing home closures are inevitable with the loss of vital community health and social care services unless there is a strong response and substantive immediate intervention in policy and resourcing by the Government as recommended by ESRI in this report.
ESRI has written down in black and white that a critical juncture has come for nursing homes. This is the latest in a number of independent reports. Now ESRI, as an important research and policy body, is seeing the crisis that is mounting and we call on the Government to take note of it and act immediately. As ESRI notes one in five smaller nursing homes has already closed and the private and voluntary system are being starved of funding, with huge disparity in funding to private and voluntary homes compared to the fees being paid to the State’s own facilities. ESRI calls out too that general inflation outpaced funding increases provided to private and voluntary homes.
This crisis cannot continue without serious consequences for the State and for care of the older person. NHI has made repeated warnings on the sustainability of the sector which have been ignored by the Department of Health. Entire models of care are being wiped out and the entire sector is under threat by a failure of the State to recognise the disparities in funding and by failing to provide for rampant inflation in costs.
The Institute notes the ownership of long-term residential care has changed in recent years. However, ownership is irrelevant to care as the sector is independently regulated by HIQA which sets and inspects the standards and quality of care irrespective of owners.
While there has been significant consolidation and investment into the Irish nursing home sector, this has all but ceased given the dramatic increase in operating costs and failure to address the funding crisis. There will be no new bed capacity provided once the small number that are already under construction and prefunded are completed.
For further information, contact:
Tadhg Daly – NHI CEO, 01/4699800