Figures released by the HSE today have revealed the operational cost of providing care in residential nursing homes in Co Leitrim under the Nursing Home Support Scheme.
According to the figures the weekly agreed costs of operating HSE centres under the Nursing Home Support Scheme (NHSS - also known as Fair Deal) is, in some cases, substantially higher than maximum agreed costs for providing care in private centres.
The HSE stress the costs relate to the operating costs for public residential centres and do not affect the contribution the person living in those centres makes towards their care under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme.
In Co Leitrim the cost of care in public (HSE) nursing homes under the NHSS varies substantially. In Arus Breffni, Manorhamilton the weekly operational cost per bed is €911; in Mohill's Arus Carolan, it is €884 and in St Patrick's Community Hospital, Carrick-on-Shannon, the operating cost per bed is €1499.
Costs in private and voluntary nursing homes are much less with agreed per bed operational costs under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme of €825 of a single and shared room per week at St Phelim's Nursing Home, Dromahair; while Lough Erril Private Nursing Home has maximum agreed costs of €805 per bed for both shared rooms and single rooms.
A spokesperson for the HSE said that "A weekly price for the cost of care is calculated based on the actual costs of operating the public centres as opposed to a rate negotiated with the National Treatment Purchase Fund, as per the private/voluntary sector. It is acknowledged that there are variations in the cost of care for public and private nursing homes with public nursing homes generally having a higher cost of care."
This variation, said the spokesperson, was down to a number of factors including:
· Reductions in long stay public beds numbers leading to an increase in fixed costs.
· Environmental implication on staffing levels with bedrooms laid out in a less efficient manner in some older public facilities than purpose built private facilities, adding to cost.
· Geographical provision of residential placements which means some public centres are provided in areas where it would not be cost efficient for a private provider to do so.
· Higher nurse staffing ratios - public nursing homes generally have higher nurse staffing ratios in place.
· Reliance on agency staffing due to the public sector recruitment moratorium which was in place for the last number of years, the public residential care sector has relied on the use of agency staff to support adequate safe levels of service.
Under the NNHSS, which is a scheme of financial support for people who need long term residential care, a person will have their care needs assessed to determine if they need long term residential care services. In addition, they will also have a financial assessment to determine their level of contribution towards their long term care costs. The State pays the balance.
The person’s contribution is the same regardless of whether they live in a public, private or voluntary centre even if the costs vary from one centre to another.