Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, and spokesperson on Older People, Patricia Ryan TD, have said that action is needed to halt nursing home closures and build public capacity.
They were speaking ahead of a Sinn Féin motion, to be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday, that calls on government to develop a medium- and long-term plan to ensure the sustainability of the nursing homes across the state.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“There is a sharp and deeply worrying trend of nursing home closures that is causing enormous concern for older people and their families.
“Families’ voices must be heard and that requires immediate action from government to halt nursing home closures and build public capacity.
“In the last three years, there have been 31 private and voluntary nursing home closures resulting in the loss of 915 beds. Without government intervention, this will get considerably worse.
“An increasing number of nursing homes are considering leaving the Fair Deal Scheme and contend it is not providing sustainable funding, while many more reported an operating loss in 2022 and are raising concerns about the viability of the sector.
“In the medium- and long-term, we need a plan that builds up public capacity and that shifts the burden of reliance away from the private sector.
“But in the here and now, we must halt the trend of nursing homes closing.
“The Dáil goes into recess next month and we simply cannot have a situation where the Minister for Health goes off on his holidays without putting in place a plan to address this crisis.”
Teachta Ryan said:
“Our older people need love, support and security in their golden years but instead an increasing number of them are being told that there is nowhere for them to go.
“This is causing incredible stress for them and their families, and cannot be allowed to continue.
“As a society we can and must be so much better than that, and we need a government that is better than that.
“The government must deliver and fund a collective pay agreement for workers in the nursing home and home care sectors to ensure a living wage and proper remuneration.
“They must also review public funding arrangements for long-term nursing home care to provide better pay and conditions for workers, quality of care for residents, and maintain viability in the sector.
“Failure to address the rapidly decreasing capacity in our nursing homes is an dereliction of duty from the government and Minister for Health.”
Sinn Féin’s motion can be read here.