Care home at risk of closing over shortfall

Ireland’s largest dementia-only care facility has stopped taking residential admissions because of fears over its viability.

The move has raised concerns the facility could be forced to shut because of a funding crisis, threatening 100 jobs and 60 bed spaces for people living in the unit.

St Joseph’s Shankill, a dementia-specific nursing home in south Dublin, confirmed to families and staff this weekend that it will stop taking residential admissions with immediate effect.

Management at the home called on Health Minister Simon Harris to intervene, saying he should honour a commitment made last month to ensure it stays open.

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The announcement increases pressure on the minister as the health service struggles to cope with a growing trolley crisis and hospital overcrowding.

Management had warned the facility will gradually be forced to wind down unless funding is increased.

St Joseph’s has been operating with annual deficits of €1m since 2012, which it says is “unsustainable”.

The home said recent discussions with the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) failed to deliver an acceptable resolution to sustain residential places. The care facility is home to 60 people living with dementia. It provides two respite beds and has an additional 120-day care patients every week.

Last Friday night management told staff and affected families that the gap between the funding offered by the NTPF and what was needed to keep the facility sustainable was too wide.

Chief executive Emma Balmaine said St Joseph’s board has decided it could no longer accept new admissions because of the funding crisis.

Management at the not-for-profit nursing home had been in talks for months with the HSE, NTPF and Department of Health about the need to increase reimbursement payments for patients.

St Joseph’s is owned by the Saint John of God Hospital which has been covering the financial shortfall from its own resources. It has spent €7m covering debts since 2012, mainly due to upgrading facilities and increasing staff numbers to meet HIQA regulatory requirements.

The nursing home said a €1.2m subvention is needed to offset its deficit for this year. However, Saint John of God Hospital said this was not “a sustainable or fair” way to fund vital services for people with dementia.

“The HSE had come to the table, they understood our issues and we have an agreed way forward for continuing to fund day care into 2020,” Ms Balmaine told the Sunday Independent. Unfortunately the talks with NTPF are not progressing in the same vein. We will of course continue to engage but the gap between what’s on offer and what is needed to sustain this high-dependency service into the future, is still far too wide.

“We will do everything possible to save St Joseph’s – however time is running out in respect of securing the necessary budget for 2020, and our board is firmly of the view that there is no basis as of now, to enable us accept any new admissions at this time.”

Management has also appealed to supporters and staff to continue a campaign to secure funding.

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