Nursing home sector under threat as Ireland’s population ages

Sean Crowe

TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that the creeping privatisation of the health service under Fine Gael has left the residential nursing home care sector in a precarious position and has threatened the long term viability of the sector when the population is progressively getting older.
Speaking in the Dáil recently, Teachta Crowe said “Long-term residential nursing home care is yet another aspect of the health service that we have surrendered to the private sector and it is ordinary people who are suffering the consequences. Increasingly, nursing homes are considering leaving the Fair Deal scheme and we are losing more and more bed capacity as nursing homes close. Some 31 have closed since 2020 with the loss of almost 1,000 beds.
“There are now real concerns about the viability of the sector. The same has happened with dental care. The dental treatment service scheme has been a disaster and many medical card holders cannot access a dentist. “This is the result of successive Governments’ policy of stripping away the health service to the point where people believe that you have to have private insurance to be guaranteed timely access to health-related services.
“We need to view the health service as a machine of many parts; if one part slows down then the whole machine clogs up and slows down. Step-down beds and community supports are a vital cog in that machine. “It costs €1,029 a day for an acute bed in our hospitals. That is over €7,000 a week. A nursing-home bed averages about €1,400 a week yet everyday hospitals across this State find themselves with patients who should be getting care in different settings.
“Delays in discharging patients from hospital also create bottlenecks in our emergency departments. We should directly fund hospitals to purchase bed space contractually for fixed periods in local nursing homes where capacity is available. Too many people are stuck in hospital beds when more appropriate care can be delivered elsewhere. “Too many homes are relying on agency staff, which drives up costs and makes margins so tight that homes close.
“In government, our party would deliver and fund a collective pay agreement for workers in the nursing home and home care sectors to ensure a living wage. We would establish the commission on care, which would modernise the care sector and better align care, including family carers, care in the home, nursing home and residential care, and palliative care. “If we do not act now, we create a huge problem now and for the future. Ireland has an ageing population. That is a good thing, but we need use our resources better.”

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at



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