Press Release

Tánaiste announces €50 million investment in Services for Older People

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., today announced a €50m investment programme by the Health Service Executive in a minor capital programme for older people.

Speaking today the Tánaiste said – “The programme will bring about improvements in basic amenities which directly affect the lives of older people. It will be designed to ensure an enhancement of living conditions and will be responsive to the needs of older people. “

“The investment will concentrate on public facilities particularly those units which were built many years ago and require additional investment. The areas to be covered will include such matters as the general upgrading of facilities, grants for smaller projects, health and safety issues, fire safety and prevention, furniture, equipment, replacement and refurbishment of such facilities to improve the safety, comfort and dignity of older people.”

Seán Power T.D., Minister for State at The Department of Health and Children with responsibility for Services for Elderly people, welcomed this investment and said today “ The additional €50m together with the changes in the regulatory environment demonstrate this Government’s commitment to putting services for elderly people at the heart of the reform and investment programme for the health services. ”

The Health Service Executive will manage the implementation of this programme within the overall capital investment framework and will meet with officers of the Department of Health and Children to develop a defined schedule of projects and to progress priority developments as part of the €50 million programme. This investment will not give rise to any additional revenue or staffing costs.

From a regulatory viewpoint, the Department is examining the current framework for the inspection of nursing homes and is urgently reviewing the operation of the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990 and Regulations made under the Act to see which powers need to be strengthened. This will be a wide ranging review which will have the rights of patients at its centre.

The Social Services Inspectorate will be established on a statutory basis and it is intended to extend its brief to include residential facilities for older people, both public and private. The Inspectorate will be responsible for reporting on standards of care in such homes and will be independent of the Health Service Executive and the Department. Legislation to give effect to these changes will be brought before the Oireachtas later this year. The Irish Health Services Accreditation Board has also commenced work on examining the development of accreditation standards for residential care for older people, both public and private.