Concern has been raised again about the future of community welfare homes for elderly people with uncertainty about whether they will have to meet the standards of nursing homes by this summer.
A spokesperson for the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) said: “Every designated centre for older persons must be registered by June 30 and the authority (HIQA) is working with the providers to ensure they meet the standards by this date.”
And a statement from the Health Service Executive (HSE) said that “under the Health Act 2007, statutory responsibility is given to the Chief Inspector of Social Services, part of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), for the independent inspection and registration of certain categories of designated centres. This includes residential care settings for older people.”
It further said that “all homes are subject to the same core standards in relation to quality and safety,” although a distinction is made between facilities operating before July 1, 2009, with a six-year window from July 2009 for those existing buildings to meet certain infrastructural deficits.
“While there is some discretion with the Chief Inspector to extend this timeframe this can only occur where the provider and the Chief Inspector agree a written, explicit, costed plan with timescales to address these deficits,” the HSE said.
Deputy John Paul Phelan (FG) said, however, that further time would be given for community welfare homes run by local parishes, such as O’Gorman Home in Ballyragget, Prague House in Freshford, Mount Carmel of Callan, St Joseph’s in Kilmoganny and Gahan House in Graignamanagh.
“They don’t have to upgrade to nursing-home standards but they do have to reach certain standards,” he said, adding that “there is a review of the nursing home standards on-going with a view to come up with a set of standards specifically for these (community welfare homes).”
He said there had been talk of a deadline in the middle of this year but that Health Minister James Reilly had changed that, and “it won’t be for a few years now.”
Nursing Homes Ireland, meanwhile, has expressed its anger at a decision by the HSE to reduce funding for over 600 nursing home beds in 2012. The NHI was responding to the publication of the HSE Performance Monthly Report January 2012, which stated that €13 million would be removed from the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal) and this would result in a reduction of 630 private beds being purchased.