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NHI representatives met with Oireachtas members today.
Fair Deal

'In two years it will be too late': Nursing homes deliver stark warning on future of sector

“My staff don’t want to go, my residents are crying, it is just devastating,” the Director of Nursing in a Co Mayo home that is closing down said.

NURSING HOMES IRELAND has warned the Government that it needs to urgently “come to the table” and get into talks on Fair Deal funding to prevent more closures in the sector. 

NHI representatives including Nursing Home owners, CEOs, and Directors of Nursing met with Government representatives today and told them that the pricing mechanism that they are allocated funds through is “no longer suitable”, as many homes are making a loss. 

A recently published report from PwC highlighted the rate at which smaller nursing homes are closing across the country, as 31 have shut their doors in the last few years. 

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO, told  The Journal ahead of the meeting that the Fair Deal Scheme (FDS) needs to be reviewed as a matter of urgency. 

“In two to three years it will be too late, and we will have a crisis in the sector as more homes are sure to close their doors,” he said. 

Daly added that more than 20 homes have closed already this year “due to rapidly rising costs and a variety of challenges including recruitment and increasingly complex resident profiles.”

He said that closures are forcing elderly residents to move “out of their communities and away from their families”. 

Karen Dewsall is the Director of Nursing at St Annes, a nursing home in Charlestown, Co Mayo, that is in the process of closing. 

She said that for a small, independent home with 25 residents all funded through the FDS, continuously rising costs without additional State funding has made the last few years “a fight for survival”. 

“The last four weeks have been a nightmare. No one who works in this sector wants to see this happen. In a small home like ours, the staff and residents know each other so well, it’s hit them hard. 

“My staff don’t want to go, my residents are crying, it is just devastating,” she said. 

The home has been open for 40 years and Karen has been there for five. 

She said that it is not the case that owning a small home is “a hugely profitable business”. 

“As a management team we made the decision to close because we knew that if there was a major incident with the roof or with the boiler, we couldn’t afford to fix it, that’s where we were at,” Dewsall added. 

“It’s been tough. Fair Deal is outdated, and it needs to be shaken up. It is becoming hard for any small home like ours to survive,” she further said. 

Fair Deal is a scheme that sees the Government pay for a portion of a person’s fees in a private nursing home. The majority of nursing home residents in the country pay for their care through the FDS. 

The National Treatment Purchasing Fund (NTPF) negotiates fees for individual nursing homes based on their location, and other factors, on behalf of the HSE. 

Recently Beaumont Residential Care, a nursing home in Cork, pulled out of the FDS. 

CareChoice, a company owned by a French investment fund that operates 14 nursing homes in Ireland said that it had to make the decision because Beaumont was operating at a loss that was no longer sustainable. 

The families of 53 residents at the home who will now have to pay full private fees or find somewhere else for their loved ones to live are campaigning for the HSE to intervene, and increasing funding. 

The company’s CEO Stuart Murphy today said that negotiations between the home and the NTPF are not going well. 

“We have not come to an agreement, and the last meeting did not give us any new hope. 

“Beaumont is projected to make a loss of  €400,000 to  €500,000 this year. Collectively our six homes in Cork will make a loss between two and two and a half million. They are not viable. I don’t want to panic anyone, but the future is not looking great,” he said. 

Murphy said that CareChoice is looking for  €1270 per resident per week for Beaumont to re-enter the Fair Deal Scheme, a figure which it is currently “not close to”. 

“We have asked the NTPF to go back to the Department of Health and to secure additional funding, but we have been told that they are not prepared to do that. 

“The pricing mechanism of the FDS is broken. It is based on location, when it should be based on costs. There is rarely a difference in the costs in our Dublin and Cork homes, but they are receiving very different levels of funding,” he added. 

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