Fair Deal delays force families to fund nursing home care privately

Survey shows families keeping older relatives in hospital, adding to overcrowding

Nursing Homes Ireland  said its survey showed older people were staying in hospitals for weeks, despite being ready for discharge back into the community via nursing home care.

Nursing Homes Ireland said its survey showed older people were staying in hospitals for weeks, despite being ready for discharge back into the community via nursing home care.

 

Families are being forced to privately fund nursing home care for their loved ones due to delays in the Fair Deal scheme, according to nursing home owners.

Other families are keeping their older relatives in hospital, thereby contributing to overcrowding, because their nursing home places have not come available, a survey of operators indicates.

Private nursing home owners say some older people have been waiting more than six months for funding under Fair Deal, also known as the Nursing Home Support Scheme. The normal access time is four weeks.

Amid concerns over the funding of the scheme and growing reports of delays, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) conducted a “snapshot survey” of members last week on the issues they were observing.

It reveals the pressures upon hospitals and community care services across the country as waiting times for Fair Deal funding grows, and difficulties arise in access transitional care funding.

In Galway, one nursing home operator said they had two residents on the waiting list in University Hospital Galway awaiting transitional care funding. “We are currently holding beds for both and for another lady at home who is on the waiting list for Fair Deal funding for over six months.”

Another home in Dublin says it has six people on the waiting list awaiting Fair Deal funding approval; two at home and four occupying hospital beds. None is in a position to pay privately for a nursing home bed.

A nursing home owner in Co Westmeath claimed the hospital in Tullamore said Fair Deal was not being offered to patients, who are funding their accommodation privately. A Co Roscommon operator said families were being “pushed” to fund privately or else leave their loved one in hospital.

Transitional funding

In Co Donegal, a nursing home owner said they were awaiting transitional funding for two patients for whom Fair Deal funding has been approved. “They are ‘blocking beds’ in our acute hospital . . . The situation is absolutely outrageous as the local hospital has today around 150 people in [the emergency department], many of whom are awaiting a bed.”

According to a nursing home owner in Co Wicklow, families are delaying admission to nursing home care due to funding not being approved.

Tadhg Daly, chief executive of NHI, said the survey showed older people were staying in hospitals for weeks, despite being ready for discharge back into the community via nursing home care.

“Nursing homes liaising with families are hearing their frustrations and upset as their loved ones remain within hospitals unnecessarily.

“The survey also reveals staff within hospitals are planning the discharge of patients and liaising with families but are then hamstrung due to funding supports not being available. It indicates staff within our hospitals are frustrated by, ultimately, lack of funding support from Government to support them in discharging patients and making hospital beds available to those who need them.”

Nearly 110,000 hospital bed days were lost because of delayed discharges in the first six months of this year, figures released last month show.