Fairness – a basic requirement
Today’s Irish Times editorial quite correctly emphasises that there should be full transparency on additional nursing home costs. However, it’s also the Government’s responsibility to ensure that all aspect of care to residents are incorporated into their Fair Deal price.
The media commentary appears to unfairly tar all nursing home owners with the same brush. Nursing homes rely on their reputations for word-of-mouth recommendations. No nursing home can afford to get negative publicity, a bad reputation is the quickest way to insolvency. Nursing homes need to survive and charge for the services they provide.
The squeezed middle
The State itself is at the two ends of this controversy and nursing homes are caught, unfairly, in the middle. On the one hand, the NTPF is trying to do rein in costs to the State by cutting nursing home fees to the bone. On the other hand, HIQA is trying to make nursing homes provide more services, such as those termed ‘activities’. But, understandably, the nursing home operator can’t afford to provide these services for free.
Nursing homes are hurting
What isn’t in the national debate are the other realities of running a nursing home in Ireland. For example;
- All private run nursing homes are experiencing a significant rise in operational costs
- There are serious issues around labour retention as the State funded HSE attracts nurses offering better packages. There’s already an acknowledged shortage of nurses in Ireland anyway.
- There’s a whopping three to four-fold increase on commercial rates on nursing homes in places around the country.
- Nursing homes have seen insurance cost go through the roof.
A root and branch review of the Fair Deal Scheme has been promised and is long overdue. A fair scheme has to be fair to both parties, those receiving services and those giving those services. Now, the Deal is just not fair.
The nursing home world in a state of chassis
And here’s something that’s not in the national narrative, state run nursing homes cost between three and four times more per week per resident than a private nursing home. We know. We’ve done the analysis. In short, the State needs to reform the Fair Deal and provide proper levels of funding to nursing homes along with strict regulation and full transparency to residents in terms of what the weekly fees are in addition to their Fair Deal Rate. If nursing home owners can’t make a living they’ll shut up shop. And where will that leave us in a State of chassis.