Taoiseach calls for transparency around nursing home charges

A report claims many people are facing additional charges

Taoiseach calls for transparency around nursing home charges

Photo: RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the Government will be examining extra charges being put on nursing home residents.

It comes after a report from Age Action suggested older people are being priced out of nursing homes.

It claims an extra €100 a week is being added on to some nursing home fees.

The charity says some residents are also being unfairly charged for doctors fees and even sanitary wear.

The Fair Deal scheme - which is operated by the HSE - sees those needing care paying a contribution for the care while the State pays the balance.

Those availing of the scheme pay 80% of their assessable income, as well as annual levies. 

The new report, however, says some residents are facing monthly 'additional charges' - ranging from €50 for excess incontinence pads to €100 for a weekend doctor service.

Others face charges for social activities, and the charity claims many are not able to opt-out even if they are unable to participate in the activities.

One social worker told the charity that a family they have been working with has been "quoted extra charges of €85 a week and they simply can’t afford that".

'Charges must be genuine'

Age Action spokesman Justin Moran says charges are now preventing people from taking up places they are qualified for.

He explained: "I think one of the challenges that's created by the nursing home charges is that it's affecting the ability of people to choose the nursing home they want to go into.

"Under Fair Deal the idea is that nobody should be prevented from going to the nursing home of their choice because of their incomes. What we're coming across is people are being priced out of the nursing homes they would like to go to, because of the nursing home charges that they simply can't afford to pay."

Mr Varadkar says they should only be charged for the services they need.

"Extra charges aren't prohibited, but it's important that they're genuine.

"I don't think any older person should be charged an extra charge for a service they don't receive - and I did read today suggestions that people in nursing homes were charged for seeing a doctor, even though they're entitled to medical cards.

"So really we're going to need to make sure that, first of all, there's transparency around charges - that people know what any additional charges are for - and that the charges are genuine".