The number of people in nursing homes in Ireland is soaring, with more than 7,000 people being cared for in the country’s eight rural counties.
The State Department says it has seen a dramatic rise in the number of hospice patients in recent years.
It says that in 2015, there were just over 1,000 hospice beds in Ireland.
Now there are more than 9,000.
The latest data from the Department of Health shows that over the last year there has been a 26% increase in the total number of nursing home patients, from 5,000 in 2015 to 6,400 in 2017.
It also says that of the people in care in the rural areas, more than half are aged between 60 and 74.
We have seen a huge increase in cases, with an average of almost 8,000 patients, compared to 2,500 a year ago.
The most common age group is between 60-69.
There have been no significant changes to the number or type of care provided in rural areas over the past year.
The data also shows that, of the 8,400 rural nursing homes, the majority are located in the county of Mayo, and only a small number of hospitals are located within the county.
The Department of Social Protection says it is working with nursing homes to develop a strategy to support the health of rural people.
This includes helping them to set up hospice services, which will provide an additional level of care to those patients in need.