Nurs­ing homes squeeze el­derly for €17m ‘ex­tras’

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Front Page - Maeve Shee­han, Wayne O’Con­nor and Mark O’Re­gan

NURS­ING homes are charg­ing el­derly res­i­dents €16.9m a year in ex­tra fees for ac­tiv­i­ties on top of the mil­lions in public money they are paid through the Fair Deal scheme, a Sun­day In­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veals.

An un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tion into more than 330 pri­vate and vol­un­tary nurs­ing homes found that more than two thirds of nurs­ing homes quoted ad­di­tional charges that ranged from €1 a day in some homes to as much as €325 a week or €16,900 a year in one up­mar­ket fa­cil­ity in South Dublin.

A fur­ther third of nurs­ing homes — most from out­side the city — said they did not charge ad­di­tional fees for so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties and ser­vices. Ten nurs­ing homes did not dis­close their fees for var­i­ous rea­sons.

The most de­tailed ex­am­i­na­tion yet of nurs­ing homes dis­closes for the first time the scale of pri­vate and vol­un­tary op­er­a­tors who are quot­ing ad­di­tional charges, and how much money they are es­ti­mated to be mak­ing on these ad­di­tions.

Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­lows months of con­tro­versy over the con­tentious ex­tra charges im­posed by nurs­ing homes, at a time when the en­tire sys­tem for fund­ing nurs­ing home care is un­der re­view.

The nurs­ing homes that charge the high­est level of fees are con­cen­trated in Dublin. The most ex­pen­sive home, in terms of ad­di­tional fees charged, is Lee­son Park in Dublin 6, where ser­vice fees start at €125 a week for res­i­dents in a shared room, and €325 for a res­i­dent in a sin­gle room. The nurs­ing home, op­er­ated by Sil­ver Stream Health Care Group, of­fers a menu of ad­di­tional ser­vices in its brochure that in­clude such so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties such as bridge, choir and phys­io­ther­apy as­sess­ments.

The sec­ond most ex­pen­sive is Kin­vara House Nurs­ing Home in Bray, where the ad­di­tional fee is €175 per week. Sev­eral nurs­ing homes charge €100 a week in ser­vice charges, in­clud­ing Mount Hy­bla in West Dublin and Al­ta­dore in South Dublin.

Justin Mo­ran of Age Ac­tion Ire­land said: “We need to see a strong re­sponse from the Gov­ern­ment. The fig­ures show enor­mous vari­a­tion between the fig­ures charged in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try.”

The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent can also re­veal that the Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion is plan­ning on draw­ing up new guide­lines for prices for ser­vices charged by nurs­ing homes.

In a state­ment the au­thor­ity said the “project” will “ex­am­ine stan­dard term con­tracts in res­i­den­tial care ser­vices for older peo­ple. The pur­pose of the project is to de­velop a set of guide­lines for providers of res­i­den­tial care ser­vices to older peo­ple and con­sumers of those ser­vices”.

The guide­lines will set out the obli­ga­tions and re­spon-

sibil­i­ties placed on ser­vice providers in the sec­tor un­der the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ties (Un­fair Terms in Con­sumer Con­tracts) Reg­u­la­tions 1995 (Reg­u­la­tions).

Stephen McMa­hon, of Pa­tient Fo­cus, said: “The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent find­ings show that a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of nurs­ing homes are not charg­ing ad­di­tional fees. It raises the ques­tion why these other nurs­ing homes are charg­ing as much as €325 a week. How some homes are not charg­ing a cent for the so­cial ac­tiv­ity ser­vices while others are charg­ing up to €15,000 a year.”

A state­ment said Lee­son Park’s fees are dis­closed and agreed in ad­vance with res- idents. “While this nurs­ing home has com­manded a higher pre­mium since it was es­tab­lished, its level of fees have not in­creased since 2008,” the state­ment said.

The op­er­a­tors of Kin­vara House Nurs­ing Home said it is open about its fees and they are dis­closed in full to res­i­dents in ad­vance: “They re­flect the very high stan­dard of care and ser­vice we pro­vide. We have a high level of staff. We charge a very fair fee for the qual­ity of care and level of ser­vice we pro­vide.”

Tadgh Daly, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Nurs­ing Homes Ire­land, said: “This [over­all] fig­ure rep­re­sents the charges for a range of goods and ser­vices pro­vided to res­i­dents. The fees are agreed with resi- dents in ad­vance and in­cluded in their con­tracts of care. They are fully trans­par­ent.”

“This ex­er­cise shows that nurs­ing homes are dis­clos­ing their fees, and I would take is­sue with the no­tion that this in­for­ma­tion is not trans­par­ent,” he added.

The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent cal­cu­lated the scale of ex­tra charges at €16.9m by tak­ing the ra­tio of Fair Deal res­i­dents in all pri­vate and vol­un­tary nurs­ing homes and ap­ply­ing it to the more than 330 nurs­ing homes that fea­ture in our in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Of 23,000 res­i­dents in Ire­land’s pri­vate and vol­un­tary nurs­ing homes, some 18,000 are in the Fair Deal scheme.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.