Irish nursing homes closing at ‘unprecedented’ rate and converted to Ukrainian refugee shelters

By John Cody
3 Min Read

An “unprecedented” number of nursing homes are being closed and converted to refugee shelters for Ukrainians, warned a Waterford TD and junior minister for older people, Mary Butler.

The government minister said she traveled to Dublin to hold an emergency meeting about the issue and to speak with officials in her department. In total, 11 nursing homes have closed their doors in 2022, with Butler saying she is “genuinely concerned” about a trend she has seen over the last three months involving these homes closing in favor of hosting Ukrainian refugees, according to an interview on Irish radio network WLR FM.

Although some of the closures are unrelated to the refugee crisis, a number of others are partaking in this practice, said Butler. She said she is concerned about nursing homes that are economically viable are converting to refugee shelters because it can make them more money. Once converted to a refugee shelter, the government offers these new shelters contracts that are supported with taxpayer money.

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“I have seen it across the country,” said Butler, “that some providers are opting to de-register their nursing homes to take in displaced people as another alternative.” She said that while some nursing homes close due to financial pressure, and that is their right as private operators, she is looking at measures to slowdown the closures while staying within the ministry’s €1.4 billion budget.

“So, there is a bit of a contagion effect at the moment and I’m certainly looking at a cooling-off period when a nursing home might close,” she said.

“We’re certainly looking at a cooling-off period before they can have a change of use.

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“We’re looking at everything because I am genuinely concerned about the trend I have seen in the last 12 months,” she added.

While most refugees from Ukraine are actually Ukrainians, a fair number of Africans, Asians, and Middle Easterners have used the conflict as cover to enter the European continent by claiming they are from Ukraine. They have made their way to Ireland and other European countries, such as in France, where one report indicated that one in three Ukrainian refugees do not actually come from Ukraine.

Ireland has faced a long-term housing crisis which has been exacerbated by mass migration. The war in Ukraine, and an influx of over 40,000 Ukrainian refugees has put additional stress on the housing market and helped fuel inflation.

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