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Nursing Homes Ireland survey shows HSE must work with nursing homes to improve discharge rates – Burke

11th January 2023 - Colm Burke TD

Questions need to be answered by the HSE management as to why there was not in place a rapid discharge strategy for each of the HSE hospitals across the country, according a to Fine Gael TD.

Deputy Colm Burke said the findings of a Nursing Homes Ireland survey show that there are 760 beds lying vacant within 147 nursing homes, while there are a further 230 nursing homes that did not respond to the survey.

Therefore, it can be assumed that there are between 900 and 1100 nursing home beds vacant. At the same time hundreds of patients remained in hospital who had been approved for discharge but needed nursing home care, according to Deputy Burke.

Deputy Burke, Fine Gael’s Dail’s Health spokesperson, said that while the survey is welcome in highlighting a potential solution to hospital overcrowding, the lack of communication from the HSE to nursing homes in recent months is concerning.

“We have a large number of people taking up space in hospitals that could otherwise be occupied by those on trolleys. Nursing homes can provide a viable medium to long term solution for those who need to be discharged and continue to require ongoing care.

“I am concerned by the lack of communication on the part of the HSE. I have been contacted by several nursing homes over the last few weeks. They have advised me that there has been relatively little communication by the HSE on this matter, and that if there was an improved structure in place, they could take on additional patients discharged from hospitals.

“The HSE reported over 500 well patients who could not be transferred out of hospital on Sunday morning. There have also been administrative delays in processing Fair Deal applications.  Transitional Care Funding (TCF) has been in place in the HSE since 2015 to assist acute hospitals as a delayed transfer of care support. The aim of the funding is to assist acute hospitals in discharging patients to private nursing homes for:

Deputy Burke continued: “It would now appear that there is an urgent need to put in place a structure which would fast track the transfer of patients from hospital to nursing home care, where it is deemed that this is the appropriate support that the person requires.

“The bureaucracy that exists is the only reason why discharges are delayed.

“Funding for the transitional care must be increased from the current budget of €30 million, in order to tackle this problem. In addition, the processing of Fair Deal applications for nursing home places must be expedited and the waiting time reduced.

“Families should not have to wait until the moment of discharge to be informed of the application process.

“This scheme must be improved to ensure cohesion between the HSE and nursing homes. In particular,greater communication must be provided by the HSE.”

Deputy Burke concluded: “I must commend the work of all those working in our hospitals and nursing homes across the country in providing care to older and vulnerable patients and providing much needed support to their families.”

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