Fair Deal scheme abused: Change rules to end bed blocks

Even by the sometimes incomprehensible standards of the HSE it seems amazing that an expert group considering delayed discharges for older people from hospitals — “bed blocking” in the vernacular — could not suggest how the issue might be resolved because the HSE data was so very poor it could not be used to design a solution. 

Left in the dark by HSE record keeping, the group used a Dutch metric and found 67,149 delayed discharges last year, almost eight times the number recorded by the HSE — 8,817.

This latest gross failure might provoke, as all the others do, tirades of anger directed at a failing system but the report also records the part families play in creating dysfunction in the system. 

The HSE did not create this situation by itself.

The report suggests we need new, more proactive rules to ensure the success of the Fair Deal scheme used to pay, partially at least, for nursing home support for older people no longer capable of independent living. 

It highlights how some families leave elderly relatives in badly-needed hospital beds rather than expose the family silver to the modest demands of the Fair Deal scheme and nursing home bills. 

This antisocial stonewalling has a negative impact on our stretched health system’s ability to offer beds to others who badly need them.

Gaming the process is, like it or not, a conscious abuse of a system established to support the dependent. 

Firm measures to confront it would have universal support.

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