Minister Daly welcomes €220m planned investment in Community Nursing Homes
Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly TD has welcomed the significant investment in community nursing units announced in the HSE Capital Plan.
Ireland’s population is living longer than ever before, and this represents the achievements of society in general and specifically how as a health and social care system we are succeeding in adding years to life.
Speaking today, Minister Daly said “Continued investment in our services for older people is vital to ensure that our citizens can age positively in homely, good quality surroundings.
“While our primary aim is to keep people living in their own homes for as long as possible, we also recognise the need for quality nursing home care that can provide a home away from home. This is why we are committed to fully delivering the Community Nursing Unit Programme. This commitment is underlined by the €220m allocation in the capital plan.”
Community Nursing Units (CNU) are an essential part of our national infrastructure. However, many units are housed in buildings that are less than ideal in the modern context. The CNU Programme, launched in 2016, aims to replace, upgrade or refurbish up to 90 public centres across the country, which would bring them into compliance with new regulations from 2022. The HSE’s capital plan allocates €220m to the continued implementation of the Programme between 2019 and 2021.
It is expected that by the end of 2019 thirty-one centres will have completed construction, while many more will be various stages of the design and planning process. Ongoing engagements between the Department of Health and the HSE have identified that by the end of 2021 over 80% of the projects will be complete or under construction. While this represents substantial progress on the Programme, it is recognised that not all centres are likely to be completed within the originally planned timeframe.
In response to this emerging issue the Minister said “This Programme is a substantial development Programme of up to 90 individual projects and the plan and scope of many of the projects has been extended and improved over original plans. The important thing here is to get the projects right as these buildings are and will be homes for older people. Irish community hospitals have been neglected for decades and this government is ensuring that communities across the country will have state of the art facilities for their older citizens. While for some projects completion will be later than anticipated, the government is fully committed to delivering all of the projects.”
The introduction of standards and regulation for residential services has demonstrably improved quality. All designated centres are currently registered with HIQA. Further regulatory changes come into effect in 2022. These regulatory changes are almost 2.5 years away and the Department and the HSE are in early engagement which allows for the issues to be worked through to determine the best course of action and to discuss the extent of additional costs. The HSE has recently commenced an integrated package of work to examine each of the CNU projects as to their current status, next stages of development, timelines and additional costs, and any measures that could be adopted to mitigate challenges arising.
Notes to the Editor
Since 2009 the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has statutory responsibility for the independent registration and inspection of all designated centres for older people, private & public. To achieve registration, all designated centres must be fully compliant with Regulations made under the Health Act 2007 and in line with National Standards.
The Government’s Capital Plan, Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021, committed to a major multi-annual programme of capital investment in public and voluntary social care facilities. As a result, revised policy and legislation was brought forward in 2016 to secure the continuation of public bed availability to the end of 2021.
The programme of investment was announced for up to 90 centres across the country to be replaced, upgraded and refurbished over the period 2016-2021. To maintain the current level of public beds, and to provide some additional capacity, funding was allocated for the replacement of 33 facilities and refurbishment and extension of 57 others. As well as securing public facilities in the larger urban centres, it would ensure continued public provision in the smaller towns and villages. The scheduling of the Programme provided that the larger scale, more complex projects would be sequenced in the latter stages of the programme lifecycle, along with the resources required to deliver same.
Projects completed to date