A private nursing home in Dublin has claimed that health authorities suggested it start charging residents for social programmes in order to make up for a cut in its State funding.
Carysfort Nursing Home in Glenageary has written to 30 residents saying Fair Deal funding for each patient is being cut by €60 a week from next month.
The National Treatment Purchase Fund negotiates with the owners of private and voluntary nursing homes on the maximum prices they can charge residents for long-term care under the Fair Deal scheme.
The home has been offered a rate of €1,050 a week for each Fair Deal resident.
The facility claims that twice during statutory negotiations the NTPF suggested that it make up the shortfall by placing a charge on residents for social programmes.
The NTPF said it considers the pricing of long-term residential care for each private home on an individual basis and the rates are arrived at by negotiation with the proprietor on a one-to-one basis.
It said the client chooses which nursing home they wish to avail of under the scheme and homes may charge for incidentals and extras.
Carysfort Nursing Home has suggested that residents contact the NTPF to question the issue and has also forwarded a copy of the letter to the Health Information and Quality Authority which inspects homes.
Nursing Homes Ireland said a major problem is that the Fair Deal scheme does not cover therapy, chiropody, transport to hospital and other residential care needs.
It has called for a fair price for care which would recognise the complex requirements of people requiring nursing home care.
The Irish Patients' Association said it appeared that some nursing home residents could face “sneaky” stealth taxes because of the cuts in payments to homes.
A sample review by the IPA of over 50 private nursing homes in the Dublin-Wicklow area shows that many have seen cuts in Fair Deal payments, ranging from €1 per week per resident to €75 per week.
Spokesperson Stephen McMahon said that additional payments for some residents range from no charge in some homes, to €3,600 a year, plus another €10 a month for toiletries.
In another home, he said there was a charge for the purchase of air beds of up to €4,000 while other homes have the cost included in the base price.
The IPA has asked the NTPF to make a public statement that reductions in fees paid to nursing homes should not be passed on to residents as top-up charges, and confirm it has not suggested such top-ups to any provider.
The association says that top-up charges could deny residents basic HIQA standards.
The IPA said that a confidentiality clause in NTPF contracts with nursing homes means the owners cannot speak out about the details.
If agreement is reached with a home, the NTPF enters into a pricing agreement with the registered home.
If agreement is not reached the home will no longer be an approved home for the purposes of the Fair Deal scheme.