Long Term Care Needs Long Term Planning – Mac Sharry

Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Marc Mac Sharry has told the Seanad that "long term care needs long term planning", at the launch of a debate on what has been described as an "imminent crisis in long stay nursing home care for the elderly".

Senator Mac Sharry commented: "In the years to come we are going to see a very significant growth in the numbers of people aged 85 and over. This is the age group most likely to need long stay nursing home care and we need to plan for a likely explosion in demand.

"Today in the Seanad we asked the government to immediately set up a Department of Health led forum of interested parties to address this issue. It is vital that we move now before we have a crisis on our hands."

The Senator also pointed out that the pending shortage of long stay residential care for the older population will have a major impact on the younger population.

"Make no mistake, if we don't have the places for our seniors then they will be forced to fall back on our acute hospitals, taking up much needed beds there to the detriment of the population at large. On top of this, the cost to the state will be a lot more too," the senator said.

Adding: "Over the last three years there has been a clear pattern of this Government targeting older people with unfair cuts. We have seen 35,000 medical cards cut, the abolition of the bereavement grant, the withdrawal of the telephone allowance, major cuts to housing adaptation grants and significant hikes in prescription charges. All of these have resulted in a major attack on the quality of life for older people."

The Senator says that the government and the Department of Health simply haven't done enough to address the issues facing older people and that must change.

"The HSE told us in its 2013 National Operational Plan there will be a significant national deficit of long-stay beds by 2016. Yet in the 2014 Service plan, 700 fewer beds are being funded under the Fair Deal scheme in 2014, compared to 2013."

"Our debate today is intended to bring this issue to the forefront of public debate. The over-85 population is due to grow by 46% between now and 2021 and of this grouping nearly one in four will require nursing home care. The status quo must not be allowed to continue. We must act now."


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