An Irish charity that supports older people in need has condemned the 15 week waiting lists currently facing Fair Deal Scheme applicants.
The Fair Deal scheme was set up by the Irish government as a means tested way of measuring what an elderly person can afford to pay for their care.
The applicant makes a contribution based on what they can afford and the State then pays the balance towards public, private or voluntary nursing home care.
Earlier this month the Irish Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, admitted that the allocated government budget had run out causing the amount of Fair Deal applicants waiting for a bed triple since February.
There are now 2,100 people waiting, compared to 654 in February, with applicants facing a wait of almost four months and independent charity ALONE has condemned the consequences for older people who are being deprived of necessary care.
Sean Moynihan, ALONE’s CEO, said: “The problem is really spiralling out of control, older people are being left to in acute hospital beds or the responsibilities are being pushed back on families to care for them.
“The Government needs to step in with a contingency plan, last week Minister Varadkar alluded to the fact that the budget for this scheme has been used up for 2014, but this is simply not acceptable for the 2,100 older people on the waiting list”.
ALONE works with the 1 in 5 older people in Ireland who are either homeless, socially isolated, living in deprivation or crisis and, where possible, strive to keep the elderly in the community.
“There are no goals or targets in the health service to reduce the waiting list for nursing home beds. There is too much focus on private nursing homes and public nursing homes are being neglected,” Mr Moynihan added.
“From our point of view, community services are as much the answer as nursing home care – with increased local supports more older people would be able to live independently within their community. Studies have proven that remaining with the community is the preferred option for many older people and it’s far more economically viable”.