Sinn Fein spokesperson for Older People, Patricia Ryan TD, has urged government to act urgently to address the shortfall in nursing home beds.
She warned that ‘catastrophic social and financial costs will be incurred unless there is an immediate step-change in the position of Government around support for the private and voluntary nursing home sector’.
Her comments follow reports that approval for a project to build 40 public nursing home beds in Clifden, Co Galway at a cost of €35.34m will equate to a cost of €883,500 per bed. This is approximately 445% more than the cost of developing private nursing home beds in rural areas which-was €162k in 2022 according to independent analysis by PWC of publicly available and sector participant data for Nursing Homes Ireland.
Teachta Ryan said:
“Government must act urgently to address this substantial shortfall of nursing home beds.
“Every time we look at the data and the trajectory of where this issue is headed, the more terrifying the situation becomes.
“For example, 36% growth in bed capacity is required by 2031 if HSE forecast targets are to be reached.
“Indeed, the HSE’s own Health Service Capacity Review indicated that 43,000 additional beds would be needed by that time.
“However, we also know from the PWC analysis that if current levels of nursing home closures continue and no new capacity is added after 2024 only 27,000 beds will be available.
“That is a major supply deficit of 16,000 beds. Where are those people to go and who will respond to their increasing levels of complex physical and care needs?
“I also find it incredibly alarming to note that rural and urban nursing home developments have experienced significant increases in development cost per bed over the last 5 years.
“In fact, in rural Ireland the cost of developing a nursing home bed in 2017 was €111k. However, in 2022 the cost had jumped by €51k to €162k.
“As I understand it from my consistent engagement with NHI and nursing home operators, the proportion of nursing homes reporting an operating loss has increased from 4% in 2018 to 33% in 2022. If that trend continues then we are in serious and uncharted territory.
“Government must give absolutely urgent consideration to allocating additional funding to the private nursing and voluntary sector to ensure the short-term viability of nursing homes and halt further closures.
“This makes clear social and financial sense when you consider that an additional €201 per bed per week of additional funding to keep these beds available is a fraction of the difference between the average private and public bed rates of €744 as of January 2023.
“Older people should be able to enjoy their golden years comfortably in safe, supportive settings. They and their families should never have to face the additional worry and stress of struggling to find a suitable home when needed.
“Sinn Féin in government would stand up for older people and end the scandal of this nursing home bed shortfall.”