The Sad Case of the Scrooge Board and the Grave Robbers

– Frank Hayes reports

Ten years ago an elderly Dublin man was admitted to St James’ Hospital. His family had shared a nightly care roster, but he was now very unsteady on his feet and his sight was deteriorating.

Two operations in two years, a predictably slow recovery at age 80, his general health was becoming poor. Then social workers told his shocked family he must leave hospital at the end of the week.

His condition was due to old age but they could offer no Eastern Health Board (EHB) nursing home place for him. Now needing 24-hour care, and aware his family had to work, the social workers agreed he could no longer live on his own but still gave an ultimatum he must leave St James’.

Faced with no choice his family found a private nursing home which, at €1,400 per month, quickly ate into his life savings. He was very distressed by his loss of independence and his hard-earned nest egg. And he didn’t even like the private Home.

So his family kept up the pressure on the EHB. It took two years before he was given EHB hospice care near his family and old home. But at least he could spend his last months in a happier environment. The story is as distressing as it is disgraceful, but that’s not the end.

Following a court ruling, the Government were forced to set up a redress board to refund money wrongly taken from the elderly and others forced to fund their own medical care and rehabilitation. Through his estate, application was made to recoup the care costs.

But word came back – only costs incurred in the EHB facility would be refunded. This would be a small fraction of the total care costs. Not a cent of the private expenses would be covered. Bear in mind he was forced into private care by the EHB in the first place.

Plainly unjust, and in conflict of the stated objective of righting a wrong to thousands of elderly people, what could be done? The family of this unfortunate man had the courage and conviction to appeal the decision of the Scrooge bureaucrats.

Recently this appeal was rejected. They have bravely chosen to fight on to vindicate their father’s rights. But how many others face a similar struggle as the establishment robs graves to give money to bankers. We will report on future progress on this issue.