Fair Dea lscheme needs a bigger budget says Niall Collins TD
LIMERICK has the sixth longest waiting list for a Fair Deal nursing home places in the country.
Thirty four local men and women were left in limbo at the end of June. The Irish Independent learned that the number applying for Fair Deal this year is in line with expectations - but fewer than expected nursing home residents have passed away. It is now likely that the scheme will need a bailout from the Government later in the year in order to deal with the growing backlog of cases.
Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil's Mary Butler show that in the three week period from June 7 until the end of the month the number of people waiting for a placement went from 729 to 846. This upward trajectory is now expected to continue.
Ms Butler described the increase as "extraordinary". Party colleague, Deputy Niall Collins said every week he has people at his clinics presenting with queries in relation to the delays and underfunding of the Fair Deal scheme.
“There are two aspects to it. People are applying to Fair Deal and the assessment period is taking far too long. Secondly, when they get approved for Fair Deal it doesn’t mean that they automatically can go to a nursing home. They have to wait until they are allocated funding,” said Deputy Collins.
He said the delays put undue pressure on families who are trying to earn a living, raise children and care for elderly parents or relatives.
“It is an option that families are very slow to take and accept but the reality is people need nursing home care. The Government need to put more resources into processing the applications and the Fair Deal scheme itself needs a bigger budget,” said Deputy Collins.
Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has said on a number of occasions recently how they can help the trolley crisis in University Hospital Limerick (UHL). Earlier this July, UHL told the public to stay away from their Emergency Department “unless absolutely necessary” due to overcrowding.
Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO, said they reiterated the “critical requirement for hospital management in County Limerick to be proactive in their engagement with nursing homes with view to alleviating the overcrowding problems in UHL”.
Twenty four private and voluntary nursing homes in County Limerick have 1,126 registered beds.
“Beds are available within nursing homes in County Limerick and across the Mid-West to provide specialist care to people requiring step-down care from UHL. We urge the HSE to ensure their engagement with patients preparing for discharge is timely and the necessary funding supports are immediately available to facilitate swift transfer from hospital back to the community. The potential offered by nursing homes to alleviating overcrowding must be realised to support patient care in County Limerick,” said Mr Daly.