Press Release

Statement by Mary Harney, T.D., Minister for Health and Children, on the Publication of Leas Cross Report

The Minister for Health & Children, Ms Mary Harney T.D., today welcomed the publication of the Report on Leas Cross Nursing Home by Prof. Desmond O’Neill. She thanked Prof. O’Neill for his work and said the Department of Health and the HSE will work to implement his recommendations.

The Minister said, “The deficiencies in care for older people described in the Report are deeply upsetting. They display a complete lack of respect for older people and their dignity. In this instance, and in others, older people in care and their families were badly let down. I deeply regret the upset it has caused them.”

“In many other nursing homes, both public and private, care standards are high and older people receive the support and care they are entitled to. Our job is to ensure that high standards apply in all cases”.

“We are learning the lessons from this, and we are implementing significant changes to give the required assurance to older people about care standards”.

“A thorough and robust system of inspections is vital. The Health Bill 2006, which is before government and will be published imminently, will provide for the first time for an independent, statutory body to set standards and inspect all nursing home places, both public and private. This will also strengthen the registration and de-registration process. New standards for all long-term residential care facilities for older people have already been prepared.”

Funding

The Minister said, “The report criticises historic levels for funding services for older people. In recognition of the importance of supporting older people, the Government made additional funding a priority in Budget 2006. An extra €150 in full year terms was allocated for services for older people.”

“In 2006, the total budget for services for older people is €1.2 billion. There will continue to be substantial funding increases for these services in 2007.”

“This funding has brought the budget for the Nursing Home Subvention Scheme to €160 million this year, from just €15 million in its first full year, 1994.”

“It has also meant that this year, we have trebled the number of home care packages to over 3,000. These special care packages in the home were first started in 2001.”

“We have increased the home help budget to €142m this year, and many more home help hours are being provided.”

New Policy Development

“Services for older people are a priority for me and for the Government. We have already carried out considerable work to prepare new policy to overhaul the financial support system for people in long term care that has been in place since 1993 and that has given rise to many anomalies. The Government have already approved certain principles to underpin new policy in this area, and they are contained in the new social partnership agreement, Towards 2016. We aim to conclude our work on new policy in this area in the very near future.”