More than 1,000 people under 65 are now in nursing homes

With 1,250 people under the age of 65 still being cared for in nursing homes, funding is being sought to rehabilitate 90 young people in inappropriate placement in nursing homes back into the community.

The funding is being sought as part of the pre-budget submission of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABII), who say they are willing to work with the HSE to support 90 people towards living independently in the community with funding support of €4 million in the upcoming budget.

ABII CEO Barbara O’Connell said the organisation has the expertise to deliver this, which would transform the lives of many people and their families.

She highlighted how the 2021 Ombudsman’s Report Wasted Lives reported a major concern with the inappropriate placement of 1,300 younger people with disabilities, including brain injury, in nursing homes – as there was no alternative or rehabilitation programme available to them.

The Ombudsman is planning an update of the Wasted Lives report this Autumn. Figures obtained by RTÉ News under the Freedom of Information Act showed that at the start of this year there were still 1,250 people under 65 in nursing homes with a majority of these with acquired brain injury.

The Ombudsman criticised this as unacceptable and called on Government, the Department of Health and the HSE to address it. Ms. O’Connell said ABII has the expertise to address it.

“With an allocation of €4m in Budget 2024, ABII could establish three National Assessment Teams to assess the needs of those under 65 inappropriately living in nursing homes; set out a pathway to support approximately 90 people to move back to community living and help to prevent future admissions.

“Also a further €500,000 would enable a much needed Case Manager in each of the nine HSE CHO Areas. A total of €4.5m – which is little when you consider the life changing impact this would have for so many young people, and their families.

“The National Neuro Rehabilitation Strategy (2011) sets out an ‘Ideal Pathway’ for those impacted by brain injuries and other neurological conditions. It sees survivors moving from acute hospital care, through specialist in-patient rehabilitation, then onto services like ours within the community.

“If you have a brain injury in Ireland tomorrow, you will be rushed to hospital to save your life. However, after that it’s a lottery and dependent on where you live. At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we have a pathway that would resolve many of these issues and we can demonstrate that it works.

“This solution would not only support the HSE to reach its targets, but also provide significant value-for-money. It would also result in fewer prolonged stays in acute hospitals, free up essential beds, reduce the burden of care on families, and significantly reduce costs to the State.”