Funding nursing homes

 

Sir, – Your editorial “Nursing homes – time for an upgrade” (July 17th) speaks of the failure to invest in nursing home capacity yet it neither provides a source for the additional funding required nor does it acknowledge that without any means of return that it is not correct to call this “an investment”. Deserved and necessary spending though it may be, it is still simply spending and not an investment.

We need to look at an entirely new model of the funding for pensions and supports after people’s working lives are over.

As part of this we need to see older people move away from the belief that people who are not their blood relations have an obligation to fund their care over the needs for their own families and we need to see the children of the older generation recognise that their parents’ life’s work wasn’t primarily to provide them with an inheritance.

It is far more equitable to recoup the cost of providing decent nursing home care to all from the estates of the older generation than from the incomes of those much younger.

Many of those in need of such services will speak of paying tax all their lives, yet the level of taxation paid comes nowhere close to covering the ever-increasing costs of the level of service that people are coming to expect. That is to ignore the fact that their taxation was already used to fund those using services at that time. It was never set aside, as some appear to believe, for them to draw on in later years.

We need a debate that recognises that the length of time that people are working and generating resources to fund state services is now much shorter when compared to the periods in their lives before and after work when they are dependent on others. The notion of age-defined pensions and common retirement ages regardless of the nature of the work that people have performed also needs to be challenged.

Yet how likely can any such a debate be when older people vote much more than the young and in a political environment where the personal almost always trumps the principled? No one gets votes telling people what they don’t want to hear. – Yours, etc,

DANIEL SULLIVAN

Marino,

Dublin 3.