Young people’s lives ‘wasted’ in nursing homes


Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has said that younger people living in nursing homes have “wasted lives” and are not getting proper support from the State.

In a report published today, Mr Tyndall said it is inappropriate for people with a disability under the age of 65 to live in nursing homes and many did not give informed consent to be placed there long term.

The publication of the report – Wasted Lives: Time for a better future for younger people in nursing homes – coincides with European Independent Living Day.

Following complaints to his Office of the Ombudsman, Mr Tyndall carried out 28 visits with people directly affected who told him they had no option but to live in nursing homes due to a lack of State support.

Mr Tyndall said: “One of the people we met during the investigation said that he had wasted the best years of his life in an institution.

“Another, who had suffered his injuries in an assault, said the person convicted would one day leave prison – he had no prospect of leaving the nursing home.”

The Ombudsman said there is no system to record the number of people affected and many residents told him that, at the time of their admission, they believed their stay in a nursing home was temporary.

Mr Tyndall said some younger people with disabilities said they did not give informed consent about being placed in nursing homes on a long-term basis.

The report makes a number of recommendations including a national survey to identify affected individuals and a budget dedicated to each Health Service Executive area to improve their quality of life.

It also recommends the HSE and Department of Health draw up strict guidelines for staff involved in processing applications for the Nursing Home Support Scheme to ensure there is fully informed consent.

The scheme provides financial support for people who need long-term nursing home care.

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall

Amongst the cases highlighted in the report is that of 48-year-old Mark who has been in a nursing home for nine years after suffering a stroke.

He said he does not recall filling in the form for the Nursing Home Support Scheme and that he was not given any option other than a nursing home.

Mark said there are no activities for younger people in the nursing home and he has no choice as to when he eats, what time he gets up, or what time he goes to bed.

He told the Ombudsman that a local charity found him a home but his support package from the HSE is insufficient, so he can only stay there for one day a week.

Mr Tyndall’s report notes that four of the people he spoke with during his investigation died during the pandemic and the report is dedicated to their memory.

The Minister for Health says the Programme for Government commits to eliminating the practice of accommodating young people with serious disabilities in nursing homes.

Stephen Donnelly said: “For those younger people living in nursing homes, including those mentioned in the Ombudsman report, alternative solutions are needed to give them more independence and choice in their daily lives”.

Minister of State for Disability Anne Rabbitte said that an additional €100m investment has been secured for new measures in the specialist disability services.

“This includes €3m which will support a pilot project by the HSE which aims to facilitate 18 people currently placed in nursing homes to move to more appropriate housing options in the community.”

She said work is under way to identify the number of people with disability living in nursing homes who wish to access an alternative support service in the community.

Minister Rabbitte said: “The first moves are expected to commence in the second half of this year”.





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