‘State failing the Nursing Home Sector and Care of the Older Person’

by Aishling Conway
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Nursing Homes Ireland has welcomed the findings by HIQA of very high levels of compliance in the sector (public, private and voluntary) in its Overview Report.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, said the sector is dedicated to providing, safe, person-centred care in its homes for older people.  “HIQA has found compliance in nursing homes at 88% which is very strong in such a necessarily-complex, highly-regulated sector.  It is reassuring to note that the independent regulator found homes were providing good quality of care for residents and the outcomes for the people who live in them was good.  It is a testament to the work of many in homes up and down the country to provide the best healthcare and home-from-home environments for our older generation.  The focus of the sector is on continuous improvement and on raising compliance even more. This is a welcome recognition of the commitment of providers and staff and comes on the back of the National Resident Experience Survey which reported that 90.3% of residents said they had good or very good overall experience in their nursing home.”

“However, the HIQA overview report lays bare the State’s failure to older people in need of nursing home care. The private and voluntary sector has been supporting older people and their families who need nursing home care. Without which, there would have been a shortage of beds, with the State’s provision dropping by a further 2% between 2019 and 2022.  It is clear that the current policy by the State is discriminating against the private and voluntary sector, is reckless and will have long lasting consequences for the care of our ageing population.

“HIQA highlights in this report that the number of nursing homes that closed in 2022 was noticeably more than the number in previous years excluding pandemic-impacted 2020 when some HSEhomes were re-purposed.  The private and voluntary sector was most affected, with more closed since due to financial viability.  This trend will continue meaning eventually there will be a shortage of beds unless the HSE steps up which seems unlikely given that its policy is reducing its provision as confirmed by this HIQA analysis.

“As the HIQA report confirms, between 2018 and 2022 a total of 60 nursing home have closed with the loss of 1,929 beds.  This 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, which is bad for older people and for the environment.  There seems to be a disconnect in the Department of Health with other parts of Government which see the value of the private and voluntary nursing home sector.  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.

“NHI has called for some time for the Minister for Older People to address the crisis in the sector and this report underscores that need for effective action to ensure nursing homes remain sustainable , open and exist for current and future generations of our older people.”

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