An agreement that will see the HSE provide emergency funding to six care homes in Kilkenny is a ‘huge weight off their shoulders.’
“Everyone realised we are very vulnerable at the moment and have to be supported,” Paul Murphy, chair of the board of Prague House care home in Freshford said, after the make-or-break meeting.
Minister Jim Daly, who has responsability for older people, and local TD Minister John Paul Phelan, met with representatives of the six Kilkenny cares homes, last Thursday. As reported in the Kilkenny People, last week, the homes were on the verge of running out of money and appealed for the HSE to take action to secure their futures.
The emergency funding agreement is just the first step in securing the future stable funding of the care homes.
Mr Murphy said that at the meeting the HSE recognised the important place of the supported care homes.
Not only do the homes offer an excellent service and value for money, but they are also credited with keeping elderly people in their communities and out of high dependency nursing homes before they are needed.
At the meeting the care home representatives were told that in the South East the number of elderly people in nursing homes who do not need to be there is lower when compared with the rest of Ireland because in Kilkenny, Waterford and Carlow, the care homes offer a level of intermediate care.
The next step for the care homes will be a meeting in November with the HSE and Department of Health to plan out a secure financial future.
Mr Murphy said that what is envisioned is a ‘light' version of the Fair Deal scheme. The homes need an income of €500 a week per resident to provide their services. Currently each resident is asked for little more than the state pension of just over €200. The current HSE subvention to the homes is less than is needed to break even.
Mr Murphy said the homes will have to introduce a new system. “It will be a change to our structure but it will give us security for the future and make us economically viable because we can't get more funding without doing something different.
“We feel comfortable about it, it's the fairest way of coming up with a solution for funding the homes,” Mr Murphy said.
At the planned November meeting with the HSE and Department of Health, it is expected housing will be included in the funding options. Housing can be an issue for many elderly people and so the provision of sheltered living will be included in the sources of funding, possibly from the Department of Housing.
While the immediate financial fears of the homes have been allayed, Mr Murphy stresses that the homes are “very vulnerable” at the moment and the situation has to be resolved soon.
He described an “intertia in the system” that needs pushing and encouragement to get all the parties to the table.
The boards of the six care homes will be going into the discussions in November with ‘an open mind’ Mr Murphy added.
The six Kilkenny supported care homes are: Prague House in Freshford, In Kilkenny the six homes are: Mount Carmel in Callan; St Joseph’s in Kilmoganny; Gahan House in Graiguenamanagh; the O’Gorman Home in Ballyragget; and Rosedale Residential Centre in Kilmacow.