Since the introduction of the registration and inspection regime for nursing homes in July 2009, all nursing homes are required to meet the same core standards.
It has been acknowledged that there are variations in the cost of care in respect of public and private nursing homes. Historically, public nursing homes have employed a greater number of nursing staff and, therefore, had higher nursing to patient ratios than many nursing homes in the private sector. This has contributed to the higher cost of care. With regard to dependency levels, the Long-Stay Activity Statistics for 2010, prepared by the Department of Health, indicate that at end-2010, 83.7% of residents in public nursing homes were of high and maximum dependency. In private nursing homes, 59.7% of residents were in the same category. The Deputy should be mindful that these are self-reported survey results. However, the HSE is committed to implementing a single assessment tool for older people. In addition to uniformly assess dependency levels, the introduction of such a tool would enhance quality and efficiency, promote value for money, facilitate access to long-term residential care and community services and ensure that older people are cared for in the most appropriate setting.
The HSE is committed to examining all options to maximise the resources available for nursing home care, e.g. skill mix, rostering arrangements and reconfiguration etc. The HSE is currently finalising a review of the cost of care in public nursing homes.
Finally, the review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, which is expected to be completed in 2013, will examine the overall cost of long-term residential care in public and private nursing homes and the effectiveness of the current methods of negotiating/setting prices.