Need for new approach to long-term care welcomed

Sage Advocacy has welcomed statements from Minister for Health, Simon Harris in relation to the long-term care model in the nursing home sector. Sage Advocacy is a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients.

Sage Advocacy Executive Director, Mervyn Taylor, said: “It is clear from Minister Harris’s statement in the Sunday Independent that he is aware - not just that the residents of nursing homes are vulnerable- but that the nursing homes sector itself is vulnerable because it has developed outside of the framework of public health and social care provision.

“It is important that we acknowledge the significance of Minister Harris’s statement in which he referred to the nursing home model eventually becoming ‘out of date’. The shocking levels of deaths in congregated care settings in recent weeks require us to think long and hard about the challenges posed by living in congregated care settings and a blame game about who did what, when, is not helpful.

“Sage Advocacy has consistently warned against the development of a stand-alone home care system for home care modelled on the statutory nursing home support scheme and has, instead, called a for single integrated statutory system of long-term care covering domestic homes and nursing homes, and a much wider variety of options in between.

“We strongly believe that the system should be deliberately biased towards home, which is where the vast majority of people want to live, and to die. Plans by the outgoing government for a stand-alone statutory system for home care should be dropped; we need no more schemes with siloed funding.

“One of the lessons we must learn from the current crisis is that private nursing homes must be more closely integrated into the wider framework of health and social care and there must be guidelines on the level of nursing staff and medical care required, related to the needs of residents.

“A wider range of ownership models, including social enterprise, should be encouraged so that we can promote social innovation with the involvement of older people and communities, rather than promoting out-of-date and outsourced approaches which suit businesses looking for a return on investment.

In May 2019 Sage Advocacy published ‘New Deal’ - a discussion document on funding long-term support and care and in February 2020 it published a discussion document ‘Delivering Quality Medical Care in Irish Nursing Homes’, which highlighted the need for debate about medical care in nursing homes so that nursing home residents receive medical care on an equal basis with those in the community.

The report identified that the medical care of nursing home residents is widely regarded as presenting a serious challenge on many fronts and there is no agreed model for how it should be provided.


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