Minister Needs to Prioritise Older Person Crisis in Budget 2015

Massive Escalation in Fair Deal Waiting Lists; Rate of Increase at Boiling point

The Chief Executive of Nursing Homes Ireland Tadhg Daly has said the rate of increase in waiting lists for older persons for nursing home care is at boiling point.

The list has increased by 25 per cent since July standing at 2,007 people waiting now. The month on month increase is 254. The trend in waiting lists since February has been to show a trebling of numbers and of approval times: in February of this year, there were 654 waiting, with 29 days to get approval, in April, there were 913 waiting and 6 weeks for approval, in May it was 1,265 and 7 to 8 weeks approval times, in June it was 1,465 with 12 weeks for approval, in September it was 1,753 and 14 weeks for approval and now it is 2,007 waiting and 15 weeks at least for approval.

“The waiting times have gone out of control, ” Mr Daly said. “Last February, at the height of the winter, there was a waiting list of 654. As we head into the winter, there is already a serious crisis and there is a risk of catastrophe for families all across the country.”

“Monies get returned towards the end of every year by Departments that were not able to spend their budgets. This money should now be allocated to Fair Deal to take the stress off older people and to remove the pressure on families and the acute hospital system. This new Minister for Health has to grasp this issue for the short term but also for the 2015 Budget and make appropriate allocations for the Fair Deal scheme. Otherwise, it will spiral further out of control and create problems across the country, across healthcare and across communities in Ireland,” Mr Daly warned.

“This is unfair to older people who have worked all their lives. This Minister for Health has to appropriately resource older person care as it is clear that if a person’s healthcare needs are not met in a timely and appropriate manner, they may deteriorate, and present this winter in hospitals with greater levels of acuity and complexity, and require more expensive acute treatment.”

“Older people who have been assessed by the HSE as requiring nursing home care are waiting four months. This is unacceptable and offensive. At the start of the year the Fair Deal budget was significantly cut and sadly our warnings advising of the implication of this illogical measure have come to fruition. We warned it would unavoidably lead to an increase in the number of older persons presenting to acute hospitals and have detrimental consequences for older persons health and wellbeing.”

“An opportunity is available now with the funds unspent across Government Departments for 2014 and with the Budget for 2015 about to be decided. In Budget 2015, the Minister for Health has to deliver reassurance to older people by ensuring Fair Deal in the year ahead is appropriately resourced to ensure they can access nursing home care in a timely manner. This must be a priority and the Department of Health cannot keep kicking the tin down the road and into the faces of families with older members who need nursing home care. Ensuring the correct resources are there can lead to a positive impact upon health service delivery and spend, addressing the high number of persons delayed discharged within our acute hospitals. Such an approach would be responsible, appropriate and play a role in supporting Government commitment to ensure Ireland is the best small country in the world to grow old.”