Elderly in private nursing homes paying twice as government reneges on commitment to provide public beds – Imelda Munster TD
Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster TD has criticised Fine Gael’s policy of calling for independent living for the elderly, whilst refusing to provide funding for the policy, calling it “hypocritical and cynical”.
Deputy Munster was speaking in the Dáil this week, where she raised the matter of the lack of investment in home support for the elderly.
Deputy Munster said:
“This is an issue that affects every county, including Co. Louth.
“In Louth, the Fine Gael/Labour government removed 23 public long term care beds from the Cottage Hospital in Drogheda. They also removed 15 respite beds and replaced them with temporary step down beds to facilitate the transfer of patients to private nursing homes.
“This was the same government that promised a new 100 bed facility at St. Mary’s hospital but this never materialised.
“It is now clear that forcing elderly people into private nursing homes is government policy.
“The recent Care Alliance Ireland report laid bare the shocking deficiencies in service provision for the elderly. Up to 6,000 people are currently waiting for home care, and those who are deemed to be ‘low priority’ can be waiting for up to two years.
“I see cases of this in Louth all the time. I am aware of cases where a mere half an hour of care is being provided, despite assessments showing that a higher level of support is required by the service-user.
“Four million additional hours of home care are needed to cope with the aging population – yet home care hours were reduced by 1.5million during the recession and have yet to be fully reinstated.
“Fine Gael needs to reassess its attitude towards the elderly. These are people who need a little support – mothers, fathers, grandparents. They do not exist in order to benefit private nursing home operators.
“Under the Fair Deal system many patients have to pay twice for services they are entitled to under the medical card, such as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, social programmes and chiropody.
“Some also complain that they have to pay for newspapers, hairdressing, wound-dressing, prescription charges and transport costs for medical appointments, despite already paying for these services under the Fair Deal."