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Review on way to ensure nursing home scheme offers security to older people

The Government is also examining accommodation options as an alternative to nursing homes.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER OF State for Older People has said that the Fair Deal nursing home scheme will be reviewed to ensure it inspires confidence and gives security to Ireland’s elderly community.

Commenting on the current arrangements, Kathleen Lynch said that there are problems with any scheme that is based on the Irish property market.

“It is very difficult to see how you can insert a degree of security into a scheme that is based on the vagrancies of a market,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

At the moment, anyone who needs to be admitted to a nursing home for long-term care can offset some of the cost by using a percentage of the value of their assets – mainly their family home. The funding can be taken from the value of the home after the person’s death.

Lynch noted that the 15 per cent contribution from the value of a home is nowhere near the same as it was when the scheme was established in 2009.

Although the deal is to be reviewed, Lynch said that the overall takeup of the offer is actually quite small. Only about 15 per cent of those going into nursing homes avail of it and only about 5 per cent of Ireland’s older population actually end up in long-term care.

Most people opt to pay up front when they are admitted, explained the Minister who said that other aspects of Fair Deal need to be addressed.

Everything needs to be reviewed. We do need to ensure that we have a scheme that will give confidence to people as they age in terms of long-term care.

She said she is working with the Department of the Environment and fellow Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan with regard to supported and assisted housing.

There have been some instances where people have been “inappropriately admitted” to nursing homes.

“That is being addressed,” according to Lynch. “Most people could live healthy and productive lives within their own communities – maybe not in their own homes – but in their own communities with the right supports. We need to take a look at that.”

The all-encompassing review comes after the scheme ran out of money last year.

Nine hospitals carrying debts of €500k because of funding delay>

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