The families of more than 50 residents of a Co Cork nursing home, who may be transferred elsewhere after the owners of the care facility confirmed they have exited the Fair Deal scheme, have called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene.
About 30 relatives of the 56 residents living at Beaumont Residential Care in Blackrock under the State scheme picketed the offices of Minister for Finance Michael McGrath and Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney in Carrigaline on Friday to highlight their situation.
The relatives have been told by the owners of the home, CareChoice, that they have exited the Fair Deal scheme as the rate of support they receive of €1,085 per week per resident is no longer sustainable given rising costs for staffing, food and energy.
Anne Rogers said the protesters were seeking parity for their loved ones in Beaumont with residents in Health Service Executive-run facilities which, on average, receive an extra €700 per resident per week in State support compared to what is received for Fair Deal residents in private homes from the National Treatment Purchase Fund.
“We are calling on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene because the system as it stands is totally inequitable. CareChoice has quit Fair Deal in Beaumont because it isn’t sustainable for them at €1,085 per person. They say they need at least €1,270 per resident to offset cost-of-living rises.
“All we are looking for is parity, so our loved ones aren’t discriminated against,” said Ms Rogers, whose mother Brid (82) is in Beaumont.
Minister of State with responsibility for older people Mary Butler told RTÉ’s News at One on Thursday that HSE-run community hospitals provide support to the most complex of cases. She pointed to a €41 million increase in funding she secured this year to bring State expenditure on nursing home care to €1.5 billion.
“I accept and acknowledge that there are challenges in the nursing sector, but I do not think the Government or I, as Minister, cannot be accused of providing substantial support. We’re talking about one-twentieth of the entire health budget for 22,000 people,” said Ms Butler.
However, Seán Olden, whose mother-in-law Sheila lives in Beaumont, rejected the idea that people in private nursing homes have less complex needs than those being cared for in HSE centres. He backed the call for equal rates of support across private and public facilities.
“They are the same patients, they are the same ages, they have the same problems and the same care needs, so why the difference?” he asked.
Ms Butler said she wanted to assure the families of Beaumont residents that places would be available for them in HSE-run facilities in the event that they might have to move if they can no longer afford the fees after the nursing home leaves the Fair Deal scheme.
But the relatives of the Beaumont residents expressed scepticism about this, with Marian Lee saying that her late father, Kenneth, and his wife, Ann, both chose the nursing home as they had liked it when visiting Ann’s sister, Iris. Having to move now would be hugely upsetting for Ann and Iris, she said.
“Sadly, my father died just seven weeks after they went in, but my mother is there seven months now and she’s there with her sister, Iris. My mother is 84 this summer and Iris is 90, and it’s their home so moving them isn’t an option. We need this to be resolved so they can stay in Beaumont.”