Irish Daily Mail
Butler fears nursing homes will shut, but reopen for refugees
THE Minister for Older People said she fears that a rising amount of nursing home providers may leave the sector to provide ‘more lucrative’ accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.
Minister Mary Butler said she will invoke powers to stop providers ‘deregistering their nursing homes’ and putting the accommodation to a different use for a six-month period.
The Fianna Fáil TD said an unprecedented 12 nursing home closures have been notified to her department in recent weeks, four of those in the past fortnight.
‘Anecdotally, I am hearing that contractors are deciding to resign from the Fair Deal scheme and are looking at providing accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, which can be more lucrative,’ she said.
‘There is a genuine concern that there could be a contagion effect in providers deciding not to provide support for older people.’
Ms Butler was speaking after closures in her Waterford constituency have left 65 residents needing to be moved to alternative nursing homes in the region.
‘The HSE will work with each family, and assess and support families, to get appropriate placements for their loved ones but it will be very challenging,’ she said.
The Waterford News and Star reported a statement from the owners of Maypark Nursing Home in Waterford city and Rockshire Care Centre in Ferrybank, who said they were shutting their doors not to provide accommodation for refugees but due to ‘unrealistic expectations of small nursing homes’ from regulators.
They added that there has been an unwillingness on the part of the National Treatment Purchase Fund to negotiate a ‘fair increase’ to the Fair Deal scheme, where funding is provided to help families pay for nursing home cost of care.
On this, Ms Butler said smaller nursing homes are finding it difficult to continue operating and said there would be an announcement in the coming weeks to provide a scheme to offset soaring energy costs faced by providers.
She added: ‘We can invoke powers to ensure there is a cooling off period for any provider who has deregistered, to prevent them from using their centre for another [purpose].’
Other closures have come in Roscommon, Wexford and a further closure is expected in north Cork, according to Ms Butler.
She stressed that the decision was not ignoring the plight of refugees who have fled war.
‘For someone living in a nursing home it’s their home from home and for anyone with dementia this can be very stressful and have a real impact to suddenly find they must move.’
The chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland said the Government and Department of Health must accept nursing home providers are being ‘crushed’ due to the ‘utterly broken’ Fair Deal scheme.
Tadgh Daly said the multiple closures of nursing homes in recent weeks reflected ‘the extreme cost pressures nursing homes are now operating under’. and called for the commitment to expedite its scheme to offset soaring costs faced by providers.
‘It is disingenuous for the State to now insinuate closures were influenced by factors other than their nursing home not being viable due to failure by the State, through Fair Deal, to recognise the true cost of care,’ he said.
‘It is the Fair Deal Scheme that is directly resulting in nursing homes being forced to close.’
‘We can stop homes being reused’