Ombudsman and nursing homes

 

Sir, – The Ombudsman, in his report on younger people in nursing homes, limited his concerns about support and services to younger ages alone (“Younger people with disabilities living ‘wasted lives’ in nursing homes”, News, May 5th).

Older people too have a future that should not be “wasted”, and an equal right to dignity, self-determination and independence.

Regardless of age, support should be provided for those living with disability to live in their own homes, with community supports and adaptations as required, and if living in a supported congregated setting, this should be configured to maximise flourishing and independence.

If current settings are regarded by the Ombudsman as inappropriate for younger people, this surely raises significant concerns about their appropriateness across the lifespan, including issues of consent, extra costs for services needed, such as therapies, chiropody, activities, etc, as well as a lack of choice in a range of areas from activities, through to rehabilitation possibilities, to individualised meal-times.

We, the presently able-bodied and those living with disability, have a common interest in supporting life with disability, recognising our shared existential vulnerability and solidarity.

Synchronisation of services across the lifespan is urgently needed: the needs assessment tool for older people chosen by the Government, called interRAI, has related tools for assessing needs across the lifespan.

Supported congregated living, such as nursing homes, represents a diminishing proportion of care options in virtually all developed countries, including Ireland, but will always remain an important element of the system.

We need to identify with such facilities representing a very possible part of our own future care matrix, and advocate forcefully that they become more clearly configured to maximise flourishing, choice and independence so that all ages can benefit without stigma or restrictions. – Yours, etc,

Prof DESMOND

O’NEILL,

Chairman,

Irish Society of Physicians

in Geriatric Medicine,

Tallaght University

Hospital,

Dublin 24.