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Taoiseach’s call for enhanced planning has been ignored by successive Governments

Tuesday May 5, 2020

5th May 2020: Nursing Homes Ireland today welcomed comments by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for enhanced planning for the care needs of older people to be undertaken post Covid-19. An Taoiseach made such comments during his Late Late Show interview last Friday.

For ten years, NHI is on record calling for the Department of Health to lead in the establishment of a long-term care forum. Indeed, NHI brought representations to then then Minister for Health Leo Varadkar both in writing and in meeting during his tenure. Disappointingly, successive representations from NHI for establishment of such have been met with resistance by the Department and health and older people Ministers. This is despite the National Economic and Social Council recommending the establishment of such in 2012, following representations by NHI regarding requirement for such.

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states: “Covid-19 presents urgent requirement for us to reflect upon prioritisation of care services for older people. For many years, NHI has advanced requirement for the Department of Health to lead in bringing stakeholders around the table to plan for the care needs of an older population that is rapidly increasing. We cannot amble along unmindful of the imminent requirement for expanded and enhanced care services presenting for this and forthcoming generations of older people. Our planning must entail considerations surrounding older people’s care needs, the requirement for effective policy and resourcing for such, and the critical issue of workforce planning. There is an onus upon Government, which has not been grasped by successive Governments, for it to lead in planning in regard to this critical health and wider societal matter. Bringing expertise around the table can inform the planning and decision making to support Ireland in ensuring it is a lead country for older people to grow old in.”

Citing NHI frustrations in such regard, Mr Daly said: “For too long, the care provided by nursing homes has been at arms-length, under resourced and requirement to address fundamental issues placed on the long finger. A forum can support those at the heart of care provision for older people to support and advise Government and Department of Health on meeting and surpassing the challenges that present.”


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

Notes for Editor

Extract from Late Late Show interview with An Taoiseach, 1st May

Ryan Tubridy: So physical distancing and all of these new things are going to be with us for the foreseeable future if not forever.

Leo Varadkar: I think so and I think one of the things we have to look at as well and you mentioned nursing homes and we’ve seen across the developed world in nursing homes, for our model into the future was to build lots of modern new nursing homes, all single rooms, very high quality. Maybe that’s not the right approach. Maybe we need to enable people to stay at home for much longer if possible and then instead of having big massive 150 bed nursing homes, maybe have smaller communities like we’ve done in the disability sector so there’s lots to think about after this.


Extract: National Economic & Social Council report, Quality and Standards in Human Services in Ireland: Residential Care for Older People, July 2012

“It could therefore be useful to establish a problem-solving group of those influencing the provision of long-term care (e.g. providers, the Department of Health, and HIQA) to examine and address the challenges of providing sufficient quality long-term care in an equitable and sustainable way.”


Representation to then Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, October 2015

“Nursing Homes Ireland will continue to highlight requirement for the Department of Health to establish a forum on long-term care. Given the considerable projected requirement for nursing home care in tandem with our ageing demographic, NHI is of a strong opinion stakeholders must be brought around the table to advise Government re planning and policy required to ensure we meet the growing need. Failure to meet requirement has catastrophic consequences for older persons and also wider health services.”

Representation to then Minister for Health James Reilly, July 2011

“NHI would again repeat my request to you to commit to the establishment of a Department of Health led Forum on Long Term Care.”