Big fall in number approved for Fair Deal


FIGURES PROVIDED by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly confirm there was a 25 per cent drop in the rate of applications approved under the Fair Deal scheme last year.

In a written Dáil reply to Independent TD Tom Fleming, Dr Reilly said 7,959 applications were approved last year, which represents 75 per cent of the 10,671 applications processed. This compares to a 100 per cent grant rate in 2010 and 2009, when 11,862 and 1,627 were granted respectively.

The figures for the end of April this year show the approval rate has dropped to 68 per cent, with 2,885 granted funding of the 4,243 applications processed.

The Fair Deal, or Nursing Home Support Scheme, was established in October 2009 as a means of funding long-term care for the elderly.

Last year, the HSE budgeted to spend €963 million on the scheme and expects to spend €994 million on the scheme this year. This compares to the spend of €959 million in 2009.

Figures to the end of April show that the HSE budget on the Fair Deal is €10 million or 4 per cent under-budget, with €249 million spent.

The figures show that last year, 2,712 withdrew their application for funding, with 1,358 withdrawing their application for funding to the end of April this year.

Yesterday, director of advocacy with Age Action Eamon Timmins asked what has happened to the thousands who have withdrawn their applications for funding last year and this year.

He asked: “Did they receive care under the new intermediate care programme or are they back at home being cared for by family members? Or did they receive homecare packages?

He added: “We can presume that anyone who applied for a nursing home bed under the Fair Deal must have considerable nursing needs. If they were refused a bed, how are these needs now being met?”

He said: “Despite Government policy of supporting people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, the numbers of nursing home residents with low and medium dependency rose over the period.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said yesterday that activity in 2012 shows an additional 480 funding approvals were issued in the first six months of this year when compared to the last six months of 2011.

She said: “The department understands that there is nobody on the placement list waiting for funding to be approved at present.”

A HSE spokeswoman said: “Given the relatively short time during which the scheme has been in existence, it is not possible to make accurate deductions at this stage comparing year-on-year figures.