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Long waiting times for nursing home funding causing ‘distress and hardship’

A new survey reveals that patients are waiting more than 10 weeks for funding approval.

Image: nursing home via Shutterstock.com

EXCESSIVE WAITING TIMES for State funding for nursing home places is putting patients’ ‘health at risk’.

Some have even passed away while waiting this financial support, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has claimed.

The organisation has released a survey of 122 private and voluntary homes across the country on their experience of the Fair Deal scheme.

This is part of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme of “financial support for people who need long-term nursing home care”.

Just under half (48.1%) of nursing home surveyed said that the waiting time for the release of funding after being approved for the scheme is three months or more, while just more than half (51.6%) said that waiting times were over ten weeks.

There is an average of 3.8 patients per home who have been approved under the Fair Deal scheme, but are still awaiting this funding release.

As a result of these delays, older patients “are remaining within acute hospitals for extended periods unnecessarily and being admitted to such settings because their complex care requirements cannot be met at home”, NHI chief executive Tadhg Daly said.

“The consequences of delays in release of Fair Deal funding have serious implications for wider health service.”

Nursing home care is care in the community that is provided by dedicated, specialist healthcare teams and failure to access it in a timely manner leads to older persons availing of care within acute hospital settings that is not specific to their requirements. It can lead to a deterioration in health.

More than 22,000 are currently supported under the scheme, with an average client contribution to the scheme of €284.76.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch has previously said that €23 million in funding has been earmarked for the scheme.

“All applicants who are approved for funding are put on the placement list in chronological order by the date of determination of their application. Funding issues to applicants in this chronological order to ensure equity nationally,” Lynch said, noting that waiting lists have fallen 11% compared to 2013.

Read: Warning of future nursing homes crisis if ‘action isn’t taken now’ >

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Nicky Ryan

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