Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne has called on the Minister for Health to examine ways in which younger residents of nursing homes can be helped move towards independent living.
Deputy Browne made the call as the Disability Federation of Ireland said there are approximately 1,300 people under the age of 65 living in nursing homes across the country, many of whom are in their 30s and 40s.
He explained, “As we all know, nursing homes are fantastic institutions operated by dedicated individuals who work selflessly night and day to take care of our loved ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how undervalued and neglected the sector has become under the last government. There is no doubt they need a substantial injection of supports.
“However, I am very concerned at the number of people who are placed in nursing homes for no reason other than there is nowhere else for them to go. There are hundreds of younger men and women, who with additional supports, would could live independently, but instead find themselves stuck in nursing homes for years because of a lack of adequate housing and supports.
“I have been made aware of one case whereby a woman in her late 30s found herself moving into a nursing home. Ten years later, despite many attempts to secure the supports needed to help her live independently, she remained in the nursing home.
“She was living with people who were much older than her, some of whom had dementia. It was inappropriate. Placements such as these can cost the state tens of thousands of euro, whereas the cost for independent living would be considerably less.
“The government has consistently missed targets on moving people out of congregated settings. Last year it pledged to remove 160 people from such settings but only managed to do so in 118 cases. The target for 2020 was reduced to 132. Back in 2017 the target was 223.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shed a light on just how prolific this issue is. I would like to see the Minister for Health get a handle on the number of these younger people who are eligible for independent living. He then needs to work with his colleagues, the Housing Minister and Minister for Social Protection to put in place a suite of supports to help them lead independent and fulfilled lives”.