Shortall stresses role of community care


THE FAIR Deal nursing home scheme incentivised the residential aspect of care, Minister of State for Health Róisín Shortall told the Dáil. The scheme provides financial support for people assessed as needing long-term nursing home care.

Ms Shortall said most people’s first choice was a community setting. She said a review of the scheme was not to take from its success. “If we find that significant numbers of people are in long-term care, when they would prefer to be at home in supported housing with home help, we need to move in that direction.”

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said there was anxiety and concern among people about how they would fund long-term residential care for their elderly loved ones. While there had been some criticism of the scheme, it had been transformative in removing uncertainty.

“People now know that a place will be available for their loved ones when they need long-term residential care. I am concerned, however, that this review will undermine the good work that was done in the context of establishing the nursing home support scheme.”

He said the reduction of 630 private nursing home beds would have a huge impact because there had been no increase in home-support schemes or home-care packages. “People will not be able to move from the acute hospital sector to an intermediary step-down facility, and perhaps on to long-term care, if required.”

Ms Shortall said the review was not about saving money. “It is an important part of the review, however, to ensure we are getting value for money by examining . . . the relative costs of private versus public nursing home care.”