Maximum 80% of income due on 'fair deal'

 

HEALTH AUTHORITIES insisted yesterday that older people will end up paying just a fraction of the real cost of their nursing home care under a new system of financial support.

This follows reports that older people admitted to public nursing homes from this week will be charged up to 20 times more for their care than existing residents.

In a statement yesterday, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said the reports compared old charges for public nursing home beds (€153.25 per week) to the total cost of long-term care in nursing homes (anything up to €3,180 per week).

It says older people availing of the new “fair deal” scheme of nursing home support will pay a maximum of up to 80 per cent of their weekly income, and 5 per of the weekly value of their assets.

The State will then pay the shortfall between the actual cost of care and the applicant’s assessed contribution. Nursing home residents will have the option of deferring care costs until after their death.

The HSE this week placed details of the total care costs for all public and private nursing homes on its website. The weekly cost in public nursing homes ranges from €441 (Dunabbey House, Waterford) to €3,182 (Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, Dublin). In private nursing homes, weekly costs range from €620 (Sancta Maria nursing home, Co Clare) to €1,335 (St Joseph’s Centre, Shankill, Dublin) per week.

The HSE says the charges relate to the actual cost of care, and do not represent the cost to nursing home residents.

In general, care costs for public nursing homes are higher than for private homes, which prompted the Irish Senior Citizens’ Parliament to express concern that costs will push residents into the private sector. “This scheme was meant to provide people with a choice between public and private facilities, so that they would no longer be pushed in any direction,” said Maireád Hayes, Irish Senior Citizens’ Parliament chief executive.

“However, given the huge variation in price, it now looks like many older people will not have a choice and will be forced into choosing private facilities.”

Age Action Ireland said the cost of public nursing homes would force people to opt for care in private homes on the basis of price and not quality of care. “This is worrying, as the contracts for private nursing homes do not include crucial aspects of care like therapy services, social programmes and incontinence pads which the public system currently provides,” an Age Action spokesman said.

The main representative group for nursing home operators said it was clear there was a “huge discrepancy” between the cost of care in public beds and private beds.

Tadhg Daly, chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, said the money being offered by authorities to private care homes barely covered the real economic costs in many cases. “This will have the inevitable consequence of driving down levels of care,” he said.

The HSE has advised anyone seeking further information about the “fair deal” scheme to contact their local health office, www.hse.ie, or the HSE’s information line on 1850-241850.