“Long term care needs long term planning.” That’s the message from Fianna Fáil Seanad Health spokesperson Marc Mac Sharry as he initiated a Seanad debate the imminent crisis in long stay nursing home care for the elderly today.
Senator Mac Sharry commented: “In the years to come we are going to see a very significant growth in the numbers of people aged 85 and over. This is the age group most likely to need long stay nursing home care and we need to plan for a likely explosion in demand.”
“Today in the Seanad we asked the government to immediately set up a Department of Health led forum of interested parties to address this issue. It is vital that we move now before we have a crisis on our hands.”
The Senator also pointed out that the pending shortage of long stay residential care for the older population will have a major impact on the younger population.
“Make no mistake, if we don’t have the places for our seniors then they will be forced to fall back on our acute hospitals, taking up much needed beds there to the detriment of the population at large. On top of this, the cost to the state will be a lot more too.”
Senator Mac Sharry said: “Over the last three years there has been a clear pattern of this Government targeting older people with unfair cuts. We have seen 35,000 medical cards cut, the abolition of the bereavement grant, the withdrawal of the telephone allowance, major cuts to housing adaptation grants and significant hikes in prescription charges. All of these have resulted in a major attack on the quality of life for older people.”
The Senator says that the government and the Department of Health simply haven’t done enough to address the issues facing older people and that must change.
“The HSE told us in its 2013 National Operational Plan there will be a significant national deficit of long-stay beds by 2016. Yet in the 2014 Service plan, 700 fewer beds are being funded under the Fair Deal scheme in 2014, compared to 2013.”
“Our debate today is intended to bring this issue to the forefront of public debate. The over-85 population is due to grow by 46% between now and 2021 and of this grouping nearly one in four will require nursing home care. The status quo must not be allowed to continue We must act now.”
Please find below the wording of the Seanad Motion tabled by Senator Mac Sharry on behalf of the Fianna Fáil group.
That Seanad Éireann –
notes the HSE National Operational Plan 2013 which states that ‘based on population projections, there will be a significant national deficit of long stay beds by 2016 based on the HSE’s target of 4% of older persons in long stay care’;
notes the finding by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland, CARDI, in its report, Future Demand for Long Term Care in Ireland, that ‘even with greater emphasis on care at home and more resources provided to realise it, the demand for residential care is going to increase significantly in the next decade’;
notes the concerns of Age Action December 2013 “that the switch in some of the funding from nursing home supports to community supports which the HSE is planning will be insufficient to meet the needs of the sickest of older people who will be affected”
notes the report of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), Quality & Standards in Human Services in Ireland: Residential Care for Older People, July 2012, and the recommendation “A problem-solving group of those influencing provision of long term care (e.g. providers, the Department of Health, and HIQA) may be useful to examine and address the challenges of providing sufficient quality long term care in an equitable and sustainable way.”
notes a new report on Ireland’s long-term residential care sector by accountants BDO commissioned by NHI, “Health’s Ageing Crisis: Time For Action, A Future Strategy for Ireland’s Long-Term Residential Care Sector”, which estimates that for every 1,000 people who cannot access nursing home care due to the State’s strategy, the cost to the Exchequer will be €273 million annually in addition to the immeasurable impact on people and their families and the acute hospital system;
notes the comments by distinguished gerontologist Professor Des O Neill that “present and future generations will regard with dismay the failure of successive Ministers and senior officials in the Department of Health and the HSE to remedy a deficit, widely recognised for many decades, in nursing home places, particularly in urban areas;”
calls for the immediate establishment of a Dept. of Health led forum to consider and develop appropriate policy relating to long term care of our older population, especially to prevent a crisis in nursing home capacity for the future.