Elderly to pay more for nursing home care

Funding for long-term nursing home care ‘unsustainable’, warns Minister

People in the scheme contribute up to 80 per cent of their assessable income and 7.5 per cent of the value of their assets per annum, but this may have to be increased. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

People in the scheme contribute up to 80 per cent of their assessable income and 7.5 per cent of the value of their assets per annum, but this may have to be increased. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Thousands of older people will have to contribute more to the cost of their nursing home care under changes to be made to the Fair Deal scheme, a Government Minister has warned.

Minister of State for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch said the scheme, which funds long-term nursing home care for more than 22,000 people, is “unsustainable in its present form” and will have to be changed. “The notion that you would pay €260-€290 for a service costing anything up to €1,200 is unsustainable,” she told the Oireachtas health committee.

“It’s called Fair Deal for a very good reason because everyone has access to it, but we do have to take a serious look at the additional funding needed.” Ms Lynch said only “some” of this extra funding would come from the public purse, meaning the rest of the shortfall will have to be made up by new users of the scheme. At present, people contribute up to 80 per cent of their assessable income and 7.5 per cent of the value of their assets per annum, but this may have to be increased for new entrants to address the funding gap caused by soaring demand.

People who never owned a home and had no income other than their pension would be protected, she said.

HSE director general Tony O’Brien issued a stark warning about the pressure the scheme is under and the impact this is having on the wider health service. Describing Fair Deal as the “Achilles’ heel” of the system, he said delays in accessing it were putting patients’ health at risk. Unless extra funding is found, the waiting list for the scheme will grow to 2,200 people by the end of the year, while waiting times will rise to 18-20 weeks, he told the committee.

The additional €25 million funding boost for the scheme provided in the budget will suffice to keep waiting times down at the current level of 11 weeks only until the end of this month, he warned.

Extra funding

Unless the problems were solved, the health service was in for a difficult 2015, he warned.

Private nursing home owners called on the Government to “grasp the issue” or else face catastrophic consequences. “Older person care is consistently veering towards crisis and this is a manifestation of failure to appropriately resource for our older population’s healthcare requirements,” said Tadhg Daly, chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland.

Fair Deal, officially known as the Nursing Home Support Scheme, was introduced in 2009. Under the scheme, a person makes a contribution to the cost of care and the HSE pays the balance. This year, it will cost €950 million while bringing in only €75 million.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.