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Government must heed regulators statement re closure of nursing homes

Tuesday August 20, 2019

HIQA Overview report highlights discrimination of residents in access to medical card services

Commenting today, 20th August 2019, on HIQA’s Overview report on regulation of designated centres for older people – 2018, Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states: “For the second year running, HIQA has stated the present funding model is resulting in the closure of nursing homes. The regulator is informing of a funding environment that is not fit for smaller providers to operate in, yet our Government are standing idly by and allowing dedicated care providers in our local communities to close their doors. Two years have now passed since the deadline for completion of the Fair Deal pricing review, commissioned by then Minister for Health Varadkar. Yet this Government has facilitated protracted delays with regard to this vital body of work and the result is some nursing homes are closing their doors. The warnings from the regulator are seismic and cannot go unheeded – ‘nursing homes closing voluntarily due to concerns over their financial viability’. We call upon the Government to immediately publish the Fair Deal pricing review and prioritise a funding model that recognises the true costs of meeting the care needs of nursing home residents.”

Mr Daly also welcomed the regulator’s highlighting of issues for nursing home residents surrounding access to services covered by the medical card. “NHI has continually raised this issue with Department of Health and have advanced to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee the discrimination that operates with regard to nursing home residents accessing a range of allied health services covered by the medical card. This report highlights delays and a lack of priority in accessing such have significant consequences for the wellbeing of residents. It acknowledges providers have taken action to redress this very serious issue and secured services on a per-fee basis to ensure the health and wellbeing of residents in their care. We welcome HIQA statement that nursing home residents should not be any way disadvantaged by virtue of living in a nursing home and services that they could avail of free in charge in the community should be equally available to those living in the nursing home. We welcome the fact that HIQA inform its Chief Inspector has also formally raised this issue with the Department of Health.”

Mr Daly concluded by commending staff in nursing homes. “This report once again highlights compliance rates are very high within the private and voluntary nursing home sector. This is a testament to the compassionate, caring staff and providers within our nursing homes who are committed to providing residents with the very best standards of care.”