Speeches

Speech by Minister Brady for the launch of the Nursing Homes Ireland Annual Survey

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today to launch Nursing Homes Ireland Annual Survey for 2009/2010.

Nursing Homes Ireland Survey

Information is a valuable resource in the health services. Today’s survey highlights the key indicators, trends and issues affecting nursing homes. It reflects the concerns you have today and demonstrates the challenges we are facing as our population ages.

I compliment both Nursing Homes Ireland and Horwath Bastow Charleton for the survey’s thoroughness.

We acknowledge that the demographic make–up of Irish Society is changing. The population has grown more rapidly in recent years than at any time since the foundation of the State. However the number of those aged over 65 is growing even faster and is estimated to almost triple in the next 30 years. It is widely known that there are some 600 residential facilities for older people in Ireland with almost 450 of these being private nursing homes. The survey shows that there has been an increase in available places over the last number of years. It notes that the average occupancy level is down. The survey also highlights that nursing home care shows increases in both the average age and average level of dependency of residents.

While the survey highlights your concerns in the sector it also identifies that a lot has been achieved, in particular over the last two years. I firmly believe that we are all working in a spirit of cooperation in bringing real positive change to the lives of nursing home residents.

As you are aware 2009 was a seminal year for the nursing home sector. Two key initiatives saw the introduction of a new scheme of financial support toward the cost of long-term nursing home care and a new independent registration and inspection regime for all nursing homes.

Fair Deal

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme- ‘A Fair Deal’ came into operation on 27 October last year. The Scheme is designed to remove financial hardship from many individuals and their families who, under the system of Nursing Home Subvention, had to sell or re-mortgage homes to pay for the cost of nursing home care. Under the new scheme, there is one transparent system of support towards the cost of care that is fair to all, irrespective of whether they are in public or private nursing homes. An additional €97 million was provided for the Scheme in Budget 2010 bringing the total budget for long-term residential care in 2010 to €979 million.

I am pleased that since the introduction of the Scheme over 15,500 applications have been received by the HSE and over 70% of these have been processed. This means that some 11,300 people are now in receipt of support under the scheme and applications continue to be processed on a daily basis.

Standards

It is important that we have effective mechanisms in place to maintain and enhance public confidence in the delivery of quality services. The safety of the individual resident guides us in reforming the health service and we in Government place great importance on the policies, standards and legislation we are implementing.

We are all aware of previous failings and their impact on residents and their families. It is important that the lessons we learn from these few but controversial, well publicised events, will continue to inform our thinking in relation to long term care. Particular regard must be given to measures that ensure that such events do not happen again. By introducing a new system of registration and inspection in 2009 we changed the landscape of the regulatory framework for all nursing homes. This new regime is carried out by the independent Chief Inspector of Social Services. To date HIQA has carried out over 860 inspections.

In addition we introduced both the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People and the Care and Welfare Regulations to underpin these. Our overall emphasis is promoting a high quality patient centred service; delivered to those who require it and in the most appropriate setting.

Conclusion

Nursing Homes are an important resource in the range of care services available to older people in Ireland today. I think it is important to acknowledge that the private nursing home sector has a valuable and continuing role to play in the provision of extended care and other services for our ageing population.

Nursing Homes Ireland provides a strong voice for the nursing home sector. It has a proud tradition of working in partnership with the relevant statutory agencies to achieve a service that is truly resident centred. The Mission Statement of NHI Ireland states that members are committed to the provision of high standards of care, support and respect for older people who are resident in nursing homes. These sentiments firmly echo the ethos of Government policy.

Thank you once again for your warm welcome here today, I look forward to working with you as we continue to expand and improve services for older people.