HSE must replace half of long-stay nursing home beds to meet standards

MORE than half of all long-stay residential nursing home beds will have to be replaced by 2015 because they do not meet new care standards for elderly people.

A senior health service official has confirmed that due to the recent publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority’s nursing home standards — which will ensure improvements in residential care for elderly people — the HSE will need to replace up to half of its 10,000 public long-stay beds if they are to meet the new criteria.

Irish Medical News has reported that during a recent meeting of the HSE south regional health forum, assistant national director of continuing care, Pat Healy, explained that beds in a series of units across the country will need to be replaced within the next six years. The locations include Kerry, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick.

Responding to a question on why bed numbers at the St Columbanus facility in Killarney are to be reduced over the coming months, Mr Healy said the situation needed to “be considered in the overall context of provision of long-stay care for older people, as well as the upgrading of existing facilities in order to meet current and new standards for long-stay care”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health subsequently clarified that up to half of all public long-stay residential beds in the system will also have to be replaced as they do not meet the new safety criteria.

As part of the replacement plan, the HSE has confirmed e112 million will be made available to create 860 new public long-stay beds and 214 replacement or refurbished beds will be in place by 2010.

In addition, the HSE has said that 715 new beds and 492 replacements will be added to the system this year at a further cost of €86m.

The identification of the beds which will need replacing, less than a month after the new authority standards were finalised, was possible because the Department of Health asked the HSE to carry out a review of all 10,000 long-stay beds in the system in 2006.

Under the new standards — which must be implemented by the country’s 608 public nursing homes and all private facilities — nursing home managers are obliged to ensure that care standards meet existing Health and Safety Authority requirements.


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