The chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland has called on the Minister with responsibility for Older People, Mary Butler to act immediately to support nursing homes.
Tadhg Daly told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland “if we don’t act now there will be more closures”.
In the last two weeks four private nursing homes deregistered with Hiqa, while eight have already closed this year and 29 closed between 2018 and 2021.
The fact was nursing homes were being forced to close because of the lack of supports, he said. The people that were being forced to close their premises were “heartbroken and devastated” for themselves, for their residents, their staff and their communities.
“This is a full blown crisis,” he said.
Immediate action was required, he urged, there needed to be more than “a sticking plaster”, there needed to be medium and long term measures for the sector.
Mr Daly pointed out that when a nursing home “deregisters” as is required under Hiqa regulations, there is a six-month cooling-off period, during which plans have to be made for the safe transfer of patients while staff seek work elsewhere.
The real issue was that supports needed to be implemented immediately, he said. The level of frustration within the sector was “extraordinary.” There needed to be “100 per cent parity” with the HSE for providers, this was important for residents and staff.
Increased energy costs will be a major factor for private nursing homes this winter. Bills to date had been “eye watering”, he said. Immediate action was required to “stem this particular tide.”
Earlier on the same programme Minister Mary Butler said that she hoped to have proposals ready in the coming weeks in relation to assistance for the sector.
On Wednesday two Waterford nursing homes – Maypark and Rockshire Care Centre – which accommodate 38 residents each and have been in operation for over 40 years announced their closure.
A spokesperson for the owners said that they had to make the difficult decision to close because the “challenges presented in operating small, family-run nursing homes are proving unsustainable”.