Age Action has warned that if the waiting list and waiting times for the Fair Deal nursing home scheme continue to grow due to insufficient funding, it will result in untold hardship for older people and further disruption to hospital services.
The warning by the older people’s charity follows predictions today by HSE director general Tony O’Brien that waiting times for the Fair Deal scheme could increase from 11 to 20 weeks by the end of the year, and the numbers awaiting a nursing home bed could rise from just over 1,200 to 2,200.
“The reality is that many older people who are assessed as being in need of a nursing home bed will get progressively sicker in the community while they wait, with the result that some will be admitted to their local hospital to get the 24 hour nursing care they need,” Age Action spokesperson Eamon Timmins said. “The knock-on effect will be more trolleys in hospital corridors and a reduced efficiency in our hospitals.”
The Government must adequately fund the Fair Deal scheme to prevent further delays. It must also do more to support older people on the Fair Deal waiting list to live safely and with dignity in their own homes while they wait for a bed. “The government must recognise the problems created by the delays and provide enhanced community-based supports to those waiting for a bed,” Mr Timmins said.
Many of our sickest older people and their carers are struggling to remain living safely in their homes. “On the day when the HSE’s director general warned an Oireachtas committee of the possibility that the waiting list and times for a bed may double in the coming months, Age Action’s information service was dealing a lady caring for her incontinent parent, who had been told she was being limited to three incontinence pads per day,” Mr Timmins said. “The sickest and most vulnerable of older people are living hellish lives, with inadequate support.”