Despite an increase in the number of older people living in Ireland and a commitment by the Government to help people stay in their homes as they get older,1 there are concerns that adequate resources are not being allocated to ensure that older people with care needs do not have to enter a nursing home or similar institution.2 The failure to increase home help supports in line with the four per cent annual increase in the older population amounts to a disproportionate cut, the number of hours allocated in 2014 was 14 per cent lower than the number allocated in 2010. Furthermore, the number of homecare packages to support older people in their homes has decreased from 11,020 in 2013 to 10,870 in 2014.3 There are concerns that ‘fragmented and inadequate’ support services may lead to ‘accelerated entry’ for some older people into residential nursing homes4 where they would prefer to remain in their homes.
Nursing homes may be operated by the public or private sector but fees are negotiated by the National Treatment Purchase Fund. The scheme for funding nursing home is known as the ‘Fair Deal’ and is administered under the Nursing Home Support Scheme Act 2009. Longer waiting times and extra costs are placing additional financial pressure on pensioners.5 In 2014, the target for the number of people to be funded under Fair Deal is almost 1,000 less than in 20136 despite cuts to home help funding and other supports which aim to help older people from remaining in their own homes. The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is responsible for inspecting residential centres for older people and has published a set of quality standards7 which are under review in 2014.
Elder abuse is another area of concern as a 2010 study found that approximately 10,000 older people had suffered some form of abuse in the preceding year.8 The Health Service Executive provides designated elder abuse social workers in each region.9 However, around 2000 cases are reported each year and fewer than 1000 cases are substantiated or prove inconclusive.10
FLAC urges the Committee to recommend that the State:
Support older people to stay in their homes for as long as possible allowing them to live with dignity.
Provide a more cost-effective alternative to nursing home care.
1 Health Service Executive (2013) Health Service National Service Plan 2014, Dublin: HSE, p.44.
2 Age Action (2014) Pre-Budget Submission 2015, Dublin: Age Action, p.21.
3 Age Action (2014) Pre-Budget Submission 2015, Dublin: Age Action, p.21.
4 S. Connolly, C. Finn, E. O’Shea (2012) Rural Ageing in Ireland: Key Trends and Issues, Galway: Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, p.6.
5 Age Action (2014) Pre-Budget Submission 2015, Dublin: Age Action, p.23.
6 Age Action (2014) Pre-Budget Submission 2015, Dublin: Age Action, p.22.
7 Health Information and Quality Authority (2009) National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland, Dublin: Health Information and Quality Authority.
8 National Centre for the Protection of Older People (2010) Abuse and Neglect of Older People: Report on the National Study of Elder Abuse, Dublin: University College Dublin, p.54.
9 National Centre for the Protection of Older People (2012) Managing Elder Abuse in Ireland: The Senior Case Worker’s Experience,
Dublin: University College Dublin and Health Service Executive, p.4.
10 National Centre for the Protection of Older People (2014) Open Your Eyes: HSE Elder Abuse Services 2013, Dublin: University College Dublin and Health Service Executive, p 49.
Last Updated: 22/01/2015 ^ back to top