Coalition not planning to seek larger Fair Deal contribution

Minister of State says review shows nursing home support scheme to be ‘fair and transparent’

Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said the Government was not contemplating any fundamental change to eligibility for the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said the Government was not contemplating any fundamental change to eligibility for the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

The Government will not ask older people to make larger contributions for long-term residential care, Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch has said.

She also said the Government was not contemplating any fundamental change to eligibility for the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme.

Ms Lynch was speaking following the publication of a review of the Fair Deal scheme carried out by the Department of Health and consultants Deloitte and Touche.

The review warns the cost of the Fair Deal scheme, which currently runs at just under €1 billion per year, will increase by about €50 million by 2018 as the number of older people rises.

The report sets out options for the future financing of the scheme including reducing the level of assets - currently set at €36,000 for an individual or €72,000 for a couple - which are not taken into account during the financial assessement for the scheme.

It said another option would be to increase the contribution an individual is obliged to make from their assets which is currently set at 7.5 per cent.

Higher incomes

Review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme

The report also suggests those with higher incomes could be asked to contibution an increased amount -- it suggest this could rise from an existing 80 per cent to 85 per cent.

It also says that as some residents have refused to pay their contributions, the Government could consider changing the law to allow for attachement orders to be secured to permit the cost to be deducted from their earnings or pension or placed against their property.

However, the Department of Health said the Government has decided to make no changes in the area of funding or eligibility.

It said the scheme had been judged as successful in its first five years of operation and the priority in the next phase w ould be to implement administrative improvements .

“The full funding of the scheme in 2015 and the projected requirements over the next three years are such as to provide a stable financial context within which these administrative reforms can be delivered .”

Just over 22,600 people currently benefit from the Fair Deal scheme but it is forecast this number could rise to 33,070 by the end of 2024 .

“With any completely new scheme it makes sense to take stock after an initial period of bedding in,” Ms Lynch said. “This is what we have now done for the nursing homes support scheme. The review shows an overwhelmingly positive picture of the Scheme which meets a critical need in a very fair and transparent way.”

Community care

Ms Lynch said the review had identified some things that require attention and adjustment. She said this was to be expected and work would commence immediately on the areas identified, particularly those that could be addressed quickly on an administrative basis.

“Other issues, such as further emphasis on community care and the development of new models of residential care, will take longer but are also very important,” she added.

The Minister said a “key message” for those who feel they or their loved ones may be approaching a need for long-term residential care was that “the Government is committed to ensuring that nursing home care will continue to be available to all who need it”.

“The Government is not contemplating any fundamental change to eligibility for the Scheme or the rates of contribution asked of participants.”