THE GROUP that represents private nursing homes has asked management at University Hospital Limerick to engage with them in an effort alleviate persistent hospital overcrowding.
The call came as Irish Nurses and Midwives trolley watch revealed that there were 59 people waiting on trolleys or in overflow wards for a hospital bed on Tuesday.
Nursing Home Ireland chief executive Tadhg Daly said that 24 private and voluntary nursing homes in Limerick have 1,126 registered beds. Earlier this week there were nine nursing homes in the county with 44 beds available to provide care.
Replicated across the county this would equate to approximately 100 beds being available in private and voluntary nursing homes.
“University Hospital Limerick is perennially one of the hospitals with the highest numbers on trolleys and corridors awaiting a hospital bed,” Mr Daly said.
“24 private and voluntary nursing homes are located across the county, equipped to provide expert care to people who are clinically fit for discharge but are not in a position to return home.
“Nursing homes have teams of nurses, carers and support staff who can provide specialist respite, rehabilitative, transitional or long-term care to improve the health and wellbeing of a person recovering from a stay in hospital,” Mr Daly explained.
“They are also the most appropriate setting for a person who requires round-the-clock care and support in their recovery. Timely transfer of patients from the hospital back into the community via nursing home care will support the patient and hospital and its staff in freeing up beds and facilitating admissions.
“It is important the HSE engages with local nursing homes to ensure the critical role of nursing homes is fulfilled in alleviating overcrowding.
He added that the HSE has a budget to provide transitional care funding to support patients and their families to meet the cost of transitional care in a nursing home and this budget has increased year-on-year.
Responding to the call, UL Hospitals Group said it “works with community colleagues to expedite the discharge of patients to their own home in the first instance if at all possible with the necessary supports.
“We also work with general rehab facilities, stroke rehab units and nursing homes. We liaise with Community Intervention Teams to provide appropriate care in a patient’s home or care facility. We liaise with GPs to ensure patients are referred to the emergency department only where appropriate.
“We use private nursing home beds as appropriate, contingent on the Consultant and the multi-disciplinary team deeming the patient as both medically well to step down to a nursing home and that nursing home care is required before transitioning home.
“UL Hospitals Group uses transitional funding to allow patients to step down from the acute hospitals.
“All patients availing of transitional funding are asked for their preference in regards to which private nursing home they wish for. We are in daily contact with nursing homes throughout the region, and they provide an invaluable service to us,” the statement concluded.