Farmers welcome reports of special deal on nursing home fees

Farm or commercial assets may be excluded in future when calculating bills

IFA President Joe Healy said any moves to exempt a portion of farm assets when determining nursing home costs would be welcome and 'absolutely justified'.

According to a report in today's Irish Independent, a review of the State's Fair Deal nursing home support scheme is expected to recommend that up to 90 per cent of the value of farm or commercial assets be excluded when calculating nursing home bills and reduce them by thousands.

“The IFA has lobbied for years on this to get it similar to inheritance tax for capital gains for farmers.

"The farm to a farmer is like a hammer to a carpenter, it allows you to generate an income. Farmers are a real case of asset rich, cash poor," he told RTE's Morning Ireland.


“If you take the average farm, we don’t want to see farmers going out of business, we don’t want to see farms having to be forcibly sold in order to pay bills.

“The average farm could end up with a bill of €75,000 per year, you can’t marry that with the average farm income throughout Ireland of less than €26,000 per year.”

Mr Healy also said that there is no data or evidence to back claims that farming families are leaving older relatives in hospitals as they not prepared to pay for nursing home under the Fair Deal scheme in fear that it will have an impact on their inheritance.

He was speaking after The Irish Times reported earlier this week that the HSE head of legal services Eunice O’Raw said many farming families were keeping relatives in hospital in order to avoid financial penalties. The comments were made in an email to HSE director general Tony O’Brien last May.

Farming families incur penalties in the next generation if the farm has not been managed by that generation for more than two years. “Keeping the first generation in a hospital bed away from the farm avoids these penalties,” she said.

She also wrote that the wider family wants to avoid having the patient’s assets used to fund a nursing home place through the Fair Deal scheme.

“My information is that it is no more prevalent with farming families than with any other sector,” Mr Healy told RTE.

“This was all based on a memo. There were a number of things that came from that memo, there is no data or evidence to back up any suggestions made.

“I don’t want to see a situation where farmers’ livelihoods and the farm are at stake and are vulnerable and need to be sold.

“If it’s happening, I don’t think it should be happening. The person who said it was happening has no data to prove that it is happening,” he said.