Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, and spokesperson on Older People, Patricia Ryan TD, have said that the Minister for Health and government must listen and respond to the fears of nursing home staff and the families of older people.
They added that government intervention is required to halt nursing home closures and build public capacity.
They were commenting following a demonstration by nursing home workers and the families of residents outside Leinster House this evening as Sinn Féin a motion, calling on the government to develop a plan to ensure the sustainability of nursing homes across the state, was debated in the Dáil and not opposed by government.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Nursing home workers and the families of older people demonstrated outside Leinster House this evening and it is crucial that their fears are heard and addressed by government, and addressed before it is too late.
“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 the crisis in our nursing home sector – to halt nursing home closures and build up capacity in the sector.
“The deeply worrying trend of nursing home closures is causing enormous concern for workers, older people and their families. Since 2020, we have seen 31 private and voluntary nursing home closures resulting in the loss of 915 beds.
“I welcome that, despite their extremely disingenuous and hostile contributions during the debate tonight, the government did not object to Sinn Féin’s motion to address this issue – now the Minister for Health needs to take his head out of the sand and follow that up with action.
“Without government intervention, the situation for workers and older people will worsen.
“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, the government must take action that puts an end to the trend of nursing homes closing.”
Teachta Ryan said:
“Sinn Féin heard the voices of nursing home workers and the families of older people this evening loud and clear – now the government must act on their very real concerns.
“Sinn Féin TDs relayed the very real concerns of the workers and the families of older people, who packed the Dáil gallery for tonight’s debate.
“Our older people need love, support and security in their golden years but what is clear from speaking with affected workers and the families of nursing home residents again this evening is that an increasing number of our older people are being told that there is nowhere for them to go.
“This is causing incredible stress. As a society we can and must be so much better than this, and we need a government that is better than that.
“Sinn Féin in government would 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.
“We would 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.
“These are actions this government could take now if they had the will to fix this crisis.
“Failure to do so is not an option – the state cannot be allowed to fail our older people. The Minister for Health and his government must act now to address the rapidly decreasing capacity in our nursing homes.”