Elderly in limbo over care-home cash crisis

By Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent

Irish Independent Thursday May 26 2011

Older people who are due to enter nursing homes remain stuck in limbo due to the cash crisis that has stalled the Fair Deal scheme.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed yesterday that it was still not in a position to grant approval for financial assistance under the scheme to those who qualified for financial support with the cost of a nursing home place.

Approvals halted on May 13 and cannot resume until the funding difficulties which have led to the crisis are resolved.

The €1bn allocated to the Fair Deal scheme for nursing home care in 2011 is only sufficient to cater for the numbers already in nursing homes.

Older people who want to go into a nursing home will have to wait until an existing resident dies to free up a place.

Emergency

Those in need of emergency care are being placed in beds in acute hospitals or in respite facilities.

The HSE spokeswoman said the 22,000 people already in nursing homes under various arrangements were not affected and their care would continue as normal.

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail yesterday that the report on the funding for the Fair Deal scheme would not be available for a fortnight.

He said that Health Minister Dr James Reilly had told the house that at least €100m of the €1bn funding allocated for nursing home care in 2011 had been used for occupational and physiotherapy and drugs for some of the older residents.

However, the understanding was this funding would only be directed to provide financial subsidies to people who wanted support paying their fees.

He said while the investigation into the funding was under way, “applications are being accepted and processed, but the reality is that this is a budget-capped scheme”.

Both he and the minister want to see the Fair Deal scheme continue. The HSE has sought clarity from the minister on where the €100m will come from.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams told the Dail that the crisis in the Fair Deal scheme was having a distressing impact on the elderly and their families.

– Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent

Irish Independent