FIANNA Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has said the Government should not be proceeding with plans to close up to 1,000 community nursing home beds while the review of the Fair Deal scheme has not been completed.
Following a Dáil debate on the Fair Deal scheme this afternoon it is still not clear when the Government is going to publish the Terms of Reference for the Review.
Deputy Kelleher said: “Reviews by their very nature lead to uncertainty, particularly if they’re long and wide-ranging and involve a scheme as sensitive as Fair Deal. Fair Deal has been transformative for older people since being introduced in 2009. It is funding long-term residential care for older people. We need the Government to be clear with this review and publish the terms of reference as a matter of urgency.
“It is extraordinary that the Government is not in a position to publish the terms of reference or give a timeline for publication when the severe cuts to community nursing units is going ahead unabated. It speaks to the chaotic approach of the Government on this issue as up to 1000 beds are to close this year. It makes no sense to push ahead with these closures in advance of completing a review of the Fair Deal scheme. This policy smacks of indifference to real difficulties facing families.
“The cost of providing long-term residential care can cause anxiety and stress for families. Fair Deal has helped alleviate that and we cannot have a vacuum develop where families are left wondering whether the scheme will be maintained into the future. This policy is not helped by the callous cuts to home help hours.
Deputy Kelleher concluded: “I know many families are also under strain as a result of cuts to Home Care packages. There were 2,800 applications for scheme in progress at the end of March. It takes 4-6 weeks for the HSE to determine complete applications for the scheme.”