Only 11% of Nursing Homes Have Dedicated Dementia Care Units According to First National Survey

Trinity Study Found Private Sector Provides Majority of Special Care Units But Receives Least Funding

DUBLIN, January 29th 2015 – The first national survey to map demographic trends in the provision of specialist long-term care for people with dementia in Ireland has found low numbers of dementia-specific care units (SCUs) throughout the Republic of Ireland.

The study also showed:
•Most of the high level care required for the growing number of people now living with dementia in Ireland is provided by the private sector
•Significantly fewer SCUs in Leinster (and increased waiting times) compared with other areas

These findings are contained in a new report entitled ‘An Irish National Survey of Dementia in Long-Term Residential Care’, which was launched by Adjunct Professor in Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin, Davis Coakley, at an event in the Trinity Long Room Hub today [Thursday, January 29th, 2015]. The report was published by the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre (DSIDC) and the School of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College.

Commenting on how the Irish findings compare with international practice, lead author, Research Associate Professor Cahill (School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity and Director of the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre), said: “Of some concern is the fact that only 11% of all the Irish facilities surveyed have dedicated dementia units and, despite an expected increase in demand for long-term dementia care arising as a result of population ageing, only a small minority of Irish nursing homes intend opening dementia units.”

There are currently 48,000 people living with dementia and 50,000 carers in Ireland. However, despite a significant increase in the number of people with dementia in Ireland, there is currently a lack of comprehensive information available to both the medical community and families about the state of dementia care nationally. This research, carried out in late 2013, set out to address this gap and to identify the demographic and infrastructural trends in the sector. The researchers surveyed a total of 602 nursing homes in Ireland. They found that only 54 nursing homes (11% of all those surveyed) provided dementia specific segregated care in small scale domestic units. This compares with up to 33% in other countries like the Netherlands and Norway where their respective governments have set targets to increase this type of long-term care.

The survey also identified that by far the main bulk of the specialist care (63%) was provided by the private sector. Significantly, the authors noted that the private sector receives considerably less funding for the care of older people from the National Treatment and Purchase Fund.

Commenting on the report, Tadhg Daly, (CEO, Nursing Homes Ireland) said: “This report is very timely and yet another ‘eye-opener’ for Government and policy stakeholders. We wholeheartedly welcome the research findings that the complex and high dependency needs of persons with dementia need to be realistically reflected in better resource allocation. The recommendation for a payment model that is commensurate with levels of care, staff training and skill mix, and type of non-pharmacological interventions is in keeping with Oireachtas Health Committee recommendation for evidence-based payments for nursing homes that incorporate real cost of care. This report highlights the willingness of our sector to meet the significant challenge of meeting the long-term care requirements of persons with dementia but the urgent necessity for appropriate policy and planning is outstanding.”