Active Retirement Ireland, the country’s largest membership organisation for older people, is deeply concerned by the government ban on nursing homes converting to refugee accommodation centres being lifted, and is calling on the government to be more proactive in tackling Ireland’s worsening care crisis and implement a comprehensive, long-term strategy for older people needing care in later life.

CEO of Active Retirement Ireland Maureen Kavanagh, said: “We have crisis in refugee accommodation provision but despite a commitment to a Commission on Care in the programme for government, we are yet to see any real action in relation to tackling the care crisis in Ireland.

“Around 25 care homes have already ceased operating in the past 18 months citing lack of financial viability. The lifting of the ban on private care homes moving to the infinitely better funded, less restrictive and more profitable refugee accommodation market will see a great many more nursing homes close their doors. This is an unacceptable situation where one sector of society is seen as receiving preferential treatment over another.

“The two-year notice period required of nursing homes wishing to convert to refugee shelters is small comfort to residents who now face great uncertainty at a time of their life when they need the most support.

“Where will they go? We are an ageing population with a 10-year-old positive ageing strategy that has not been implemented. We know that in the coming years demand for aged care is projected to grow. What provision will be available for older people needing care in the future?

“In its present state, the home care system cannot absorb the shortfall. There are 6,700 people on the national waiting list for home care, an increase of 25% from this time last year.

“Many older people needing care who would like to stay in their home have no choice but to go into nursing homes. There is no statutory home care system in place to support this.

“Evidently, the government is under considerable pressure to meet its obligations to provide suitable, adequate accommodation for refugees, and this is something Active Retirement Ireland supports. What we don’t want is a situation where older people are consistently pushed down the list of priorities.

“Active Retirement Ireland has long called for the government to institute a comprehensive, long-term strategy that allows Irish people to age with dignity and respect.

“Further, Active Retirement Ireland, as part of the Alliance of Age Sector NGOs, is calling on the government to establish an Independent Commissioner for Ageing and Older People to protect older people’s interests, rights and equality across government.”

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