Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has called out Government inaction which has led to the loss of nearly 900 nursing home beds since 2019, and the net loss of 1,000 public nursing home beds since 2014.
The TD for Waterford said that the growing pace of nursing home closures, for regulatory and viability reasons, is of serious concern at a time when the older population is growing rapidly, and alternative home care options are not in place.
Teachta Cullinane said that the Government must revise the health budget for 2024 in line with Sinn Féin’s proposals to increase investment in public nursing home capacity, review the Fair Deal pricing mechanism to reflect the increasing complexity of care, and increase funding to hospitals to lease more nursing home beds in the short-term for step-down care.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The loss of 900 nursing home beds since 2019 is of serious concern.
“HIQA has a job to do to ensure that the sector is up to standard, and that is without question.
“Many nursing homes have closed because they cannot afford to maintain standards.
“Others are closing because they are becoming unviable due to inflation and rising costs associated with increasingly complex care.
“Since 2014, there are 1,000 fewer public nursing home beds, despite a rapidly ageing population. The Government has dragged its feet on public capacity, and the system is more reliant on the private sector than ever before.
“Community and voluntary sector nursing homes, as well as private care homes, are facing these issues.
“The growing pace of closures is of serious concern especially because the alternative home care options are not in place for older people. There are several thousand older people on waiting lists for home care, and many with home support are not getting the hours that they need.
“Government has no joint-up plan for care for older people, and it shows.
“As well as investing in home support and improving terms and conditions for home care workers, Government must address the viability issue in the nursing home sector.
“Government should revise the health budget for 2024 in line with Sinn Féin’s proposals to increase investment in public nursing home capacity, review the Fair Deal pricing mechanism to reflect the increasing complexity of care, and increase funding to hospitals to lease more nursing home beds in the short-term for step-down care.
“Government should make a concerted effort to make best use of the community and voluntary non-profit sector while building up public capacity.”