Ireland facing demographic ‘time bomb’

Shortfall of 4,200 nursing home beds by 2016

The report, Health’s Ageing Crisis: Time for Action, prepared by chartered accountants group BDO, says there will be a shortfall of 4,200 nursing home beds by 2016 and 8,000 beds by 2021.

The report, Health’s Ageing Crisis: Time for Action, prepared by chartered accountants group BDO, says there will be a shortfall of 4,200 nursing home beds by 2016 and 8,000 beds by 2021.

Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 01:00

Ireland is facing a demographic “time bomb”, according to the authors of a report on the future of Ireland’s nursing homes commissioned by Nursing Homes Ireland, a group representing

more than 350 private nursing homes.

The report, Health’s Ageing Crisis: Time for Action , prepared by chartered accountants group BDO, says there will be a shortfall of 4,200 nursing home beds by 2016 and 8,000 beds by 2021.

The figures are based on projected demographics and a number of assumptions, among them that private bed growth will not meet projected demand and that additional capacity in the public health sector is likely to be restricted due to limited capital funding.

Capital investment

Managing partner of BDO Derry Gray pointed to population projections which indicate that the number of over-85s is due to grow by 352 per cent by 2046 and said

more than a fifth of people in this age category required long-term residential care.

He said there was a “significant need for capital investment to meet this demand” but that there was a “lack of clarity around the policy of capital investment and operating funds to operate these nursing homes”.

Mr Gray said recent decisions by the Government to divert money out of nursing home care to alternative homecare packages and other community facilities was counter-productive and would ultimately result in considerable waiting times for residential care.

Private sector incentives
Among its recommendations, the report suggests the Government should introduce incentives to encourage private investment in the nursing home sector which it says could include a zero or low-VAT rate to encourage construction.

Tadgh Daly of Nursing Homes Ireland, whose members comprise 356 private or voluntary nursing homes across Ireland, said the report should “act as a catalyst for the debate around the future requirements for long-term residential care”.

However, Michael Harty, the chairman of Home and Community Care Ireland, challenged the findings of the report: “It makes no sense for the Government to incentivise more expensive nursing home care . . . when the evidence shows the majority of people want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.”