Over 1,100 awaiting places in nursing homes

More than 1,100 vuln-erable elderly people have been forced onto unofficial nursing home waiting lists in just two years, due to the HSE’s chronic funding problems.

Figures revealed in response to Health Minister James Reilly’s plan to officially introduce public waiting lists system this year show that, in reality, the policy is already in operation.

According to the HSE, since the Fair Deal nursing home scheme was created in Oct 2009 to help reduce the cost of care for pensioners, 22,957 older people have been placed in public facilities.

However, since Dec 2011 — when the new scheme began to be impacted by wider health service funding issues — the number of people told they must wait for rooms until existing spots are “vacated” has surged.

At the end of 2011, a total of 583 people were waiting an average of one month for the vital care, with the figure increasing to 656 by the end of 2012.

The rates mean that, in just two years, 1,139 people have been told they cannot access public nursing home care.

However, these delays are not counted as official waiting lists. They are instead described as “placement list” applications.

Officially, it means the delays were not waiting lists until Dr Reilly ann-ounced the change in category earlier this month.

“Applicants are put on the ‘placement list’ when their application has been successfully processed to completion — that is, when they have been found to clinically require long-term residential care and the financial assessment has determined the amount the applicant must pay,” said a HSE spokeswoman.

“Funding approval is granted, within the resources available, before the individual can take their place.”

The decision to make nursing home waiting lists official policy was confirmed in the HSE’s national service plan for this year, released in January.

The document said the situation could not be avoided due to ongoing financial pressures on the HSE.

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