Sector angered by O'Reilly remarks


Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly’s criticism of what she called the “warehousing” of elderly people in private nursing homes has “disappointed and angered” the sector’s representative organisation.

The chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) Tadhg Daly said Ms O’Reilly’s use of the term “warehousing” was “gratuitous and extremely upsetting” to residents and staff .

Ms O’Reilly made her remarks at a Third Age event in Dublin on Thursday. She said there were some “wonderful” nursing homes which put the interests of individual residents to the fore, “but I think all of us intuitively feel there’s something wrong about this, this warehousing”. She said she disagreed with the “effective divesting of responsibility to a large degree from the public to the private sector”.

Dedicated care

Mr Daly said Ms O’Reilly’s comments did not reflect the dedicated care provided by private and voluntary nursing homes in hundreds of communities across Ireland.

The use of the term “warehousing” incorrectly associated “the highly regulated, excellent care provided in such homes with that of shameful chapters of Ireland’s past”, he said. “A public figure such as Ms O’Reilly should be cognisant of the damage, misrepresentation, upset and distress such comments can cause for the residents, families, staff and all those associated with private and voluntary nursing homes.”

He said such facilities provided a “home from home” to almost 22,000 people who could no longer remain in their own homes.

Responding to Ms O’Reilly’s comment that private nursing homes could cost more than €1,000 a week, Mr Daly said the private and voluntary nursing home sector provided care at fee rates that were “50 per cent below that provided to State homes”.

He said the NHI’s members were coming under considerable strain because of “State pressures being brought to bear upon such homes to provide care to residents for unjustifiable fees”.