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Nursing Home Services (Continued)

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne] There needs to be a clear demonstration that recruitment difficulties are solely due to shortages and not to other factors, such as salary or working conditions.

Both Departments met sectoral representatives and considered their business case. The sector has been advised that more evidence is required of the labour shortage and that they must demonstrate full engagement with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. On provision of this evidence, the matter will then be reconsidered. The Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, acknowledges the significant role of private and voluntary providers in residential care provision. I assure the House that he and the Department will continue to engage with the nursing home sector.

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan There is a danger of shooting the messenger because I must acknowledge that reply was very disappointing. To go back to the review and how long it is taking, it is acknowledged that it is significantly overdue but we are not too sure why it is taking so long. The report is close to completion but we still do not have a date as to when the review will be available.

What must also be considered is that we need a system whereby when a satisfactory rate is struck, it will be proofed against inflation in relevant areas of cost for a number of years. We hope inflation will decrease as well as increase but that proofing must be included also. There are concerns about the appeals mechanism and this needs particular consideration. With regard to the price review, is there professional and independent costing and other technical and relevant expertise?

In the context of staffing, the Minister of State's reply stated it must be proved there is a genuine labour shortage and it is not due to other factors. I have given the facts about the work and the rate that can be paid when going through an agency. How can agencies offer so much when the funding is from the State? This is leading to shortages in the private and voluntary sector. Somebody has to join up the dots and look at the matter in a much more holistic way. Earlier, I spoke to my colleague, Deputy Pringle, and he told me there is a very good system in Donegal where there is close co-operation between hospitals and community nursing homes but there is a fear this could be subject to change.

The voluntary and private sectors are providing much-needed care for long-term residents in particular. We must acknowledge that there is an increasing demand for the service. We want to keep people in the community but it will not be possible for everybody. Further closures will have serious consequences so these issues must be addressed. I could not get over the difference between the average public and private rates, which ranges from a difference of 40% to 163%. This needs to be looked at as well as the other issues I have raised.

Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne I do not have a closing statement on this. I acknowledge Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan's frustration, particularly with regard to the report that is significantly overdue. I would like to revert to the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, on some of the questions the Deputy has raised and ask for a more specific response. I am not in a position to give Deputy O'Sullivan specific answers. I hope she will bear with me while I raise the issues with the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, and ask him to respond. I acknowledge Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan's frustration about the clear fact that I am not in a position to answer some of the questions she has asked. I will go to the Minister of State and ask him to provide specific answers.

A Cheann Comhairle, I have been asked to take the next matter but I do not have a script. It was not brought; I just received a short note.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That is not fair to the Minister of State or to the Deputy who tabled the matter.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Or the seriousness of the matter to be addressed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Absolutely.

Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne The script is being delivered now. I have not seen it. I am not sure whether I will be able to take the matter. Perhaps the Deputy would like to defer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We can defer until Tuesday if Deputy Ó Caoláin wishes.

Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne I am only receiving the reply now. I apologise.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin This is very unsatisfactory. I responded to the opportunity. In respect of the Minister of State, Deputy Byrne, who has not even had sight of the reply and has just been handed it-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl It is not the fault of the Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin No, I acknowledge that absolutely.

Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne I only just got it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl If the Deputy so wishes, we will take the matter again. If the Deputy resubmits the matter, it will be selected as a priority on Tuesday.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin "Priority" is the key word. I accept the suggestion of the Ceann Comhairle. I hope the Minister for Justice and Equality will present himself to address the issue involved.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Whoever might attend, I have to say it is most unsatisfactory to find ourselves in a situation whereby we have only been able to proceed with two of the four Topical Issues selected. This is becoming something of a habit. I am afraid that we cannot lay responsibility entirely at the door of the Government because frequently people who submit Topical Issues then withdraw them as soon as they have been selected. That is not acceptable either.

Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne I have the response if Deputy Ó Caoláin would like to read it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl No, he wants to be able to engage with the Minister directly.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin It would be appropriate to engage directly with the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne I apologise to the Deputy and the Ceann Comhairle. I have only just received the reply.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin I do not think either of us hold the Minister of State in any fault.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We will suspend for ten minutes while we prepare to take the next item and give the participants of that debate an opportunity to prepare and arrive.

  Sitting suspended at 3.55 p.m. and resumed at 4.05 p.m.


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