An estimated 2,000 beds are available in private and voluntary nursing homes across the country to facilitate timely discharge of patients from acute hospitals to nursing home care, NHI today revealed. However, NHI states feedback from Members is the discharge process within hospitals is disorganised, inconsistent and supports are not available to enable staff facilitate the timely discharge of patients to nursing home care, where required.
NHI undertook a snapshot survey Tuesday 7th January asking private and voluntary nursing homes the number of available beds within their homes to facilitate transfer of patients from hospital. 136 nursing homes informed the survey of 861 beds being available. 445 private and voluntary nursing homes are operating in communities across the country, positioned to provide specialised step-down and long-term care. 80% of the nursing homes replying to the survey had at least one bed available.
HSE figures inform circa 60% of the hundreds of patients clinically fit for discharge in our acute hospitals are awaiting long-term nursing home care. Recent figures state at the end of November, almost 700 patients within our hospitals were delayed discharges.
Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states: “Engagement with nursing homes the past number of days has informed of huge level of frustration with regard to the discharge process within our acute hospitals. We have nursing homes informing us they are aware of patients requiring discharge to nursing home care but many of these patients are being deterred due to delays in accessing funding support or bureaucracy within the hospital. We’ve hundreds of beds available to provide specialised care for people in our hospitals who need step-down care but these are not being utilised. Our Members are reporting extreme frustration that patients assessed as requiring nursing home care are experiencing unnecessary delays and are remaining within hospital for periods of days in many instances.
“Late Saturday, NHI fielded an urgent request from the HSE at local level seeking information regarding nursing home beds immediately available to facilitate discharges from two severely overcrowded hospitals. Over 20 beds from ten nursing homes surrounding the hospitals were identified within a matter of hours but only one bed has since been utilised. These hospitals remain severely overcrowded.
“While discharges occur every day to nursing homes, the urgency and focus required during this national emergency is not evident.
“Nursing home care has a lead role to fulfil in alleviating overcrowding within our acute hospitals and engagement has been undertaken with the HSE at national level. But it is damning upon the Government that no engagement is undertaken with the nursing home sector prior to the Winter period with view to planning timely discharge of the hundreds of patients requiring nursing home care that are within our hospitals on a daily basis. Year-on-year it fails to comprehensively plan for the Winter period and the outcome is distress for hospital patients, their families and hospital staff.”