THE director of a West Clare nursing home has called for greater equality in funding, so that both private and public operators can meet the highest standards of care.
Yvonne Moroney, Director of Nursing at St Theresa’s in Kilrush, called for an end to the current “two tiered service.” She said that the focus on nursing homes, in light of Covid-19 crisis, was an opportunity to plan for improved care of the elderly.
In April, The Champion reported on the gap in State support for the private and public nursing home sectors, and published figures showing HSE-run services receiving the lion’s share.
“I would like to see changes to the Fair Deal (Nursing Home Subvention) Scheme,” Ms Moroney said, “so that the private sector is paid equal to the public health system, as currently we are a two tiered service as regards financial capital and inspections. Everyone thinks the private nursing homes are getting paid more than the public nursing homes, we are not. The public health care system is costing the taxpayer more.”
Ms Moroney, whose family built St Theresa’s in the mid-1990s, said both sectors should be brought together in the interests of providing better care. “All nursing homes need to be more closely aligned as one group and not private versus public,” she said. “Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) should be involved in all the relevant groups to ensure the nursing home sector is being represented fully who have always insured the residents’ and their families’ best interests are to the fore. I would like to see a more unified health care system that works for everyone. We have a nation full of health care professionals who have a natural caring ability. Let’s put our heads together and build the community the Irish people want to see.”
Debate on the quality of care in nursing homes, in light of figures showing more than half of deaths from coronavirus occurred in those settings, predominantly those in the east of Ireland, has created an opportunity to examine the issue of elder care more thoroughly, Ms Moroney said. Comments by certain politicians about the private sector have caused upset, she added.
At last week’s meeting of the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd claimed that “very wealthy” nursing home owners should have done more to respond to the crisis. He left the chamber shortly after rejecting NHI claims that the State had left residents isolated. “It is upsetting to see an elected representative with no clear perception on the reality of the private nursing home sector, who are not all for profit,” she said. “I have worked for over 20 years as a nurse. I cannot walk away. I am still caring for those he is saying he is upset about.”
“As owners and staff we are both hurt and insulted that we would be tarnished with the misconception of every nursing home being profit driven,” she added. “If we were purely for profit, we would be closed a long time ago as the standards and requirements placed on private nursing homes incurs significant capital investment. To-date, we are working very hard to keep an excellent standard of care and this has been highlighted by our Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) inspections. We do everything to ensure the best care is given in a safe and homely environment by our highly skilled and professional staff.”