The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D., has announced the date for the introduction of the new Nursing Homes Support Scheme, A Fair Deal. How fair the deal is, remains to be seen though. But Minister Harney was buoyant.
“ From that date onwards, people will be free to apply to the HSE for financial support towards nursing home costs under the rules of the new scheme.
“I am very aware that people will wish to prepare for the scheme in advance. For this reason, I have signed an order which commences the new care representative appointment process with effect from 5th October 2009.
“This will allow people to apply to the Circuit Court for appointment as a care representative where they wish to request the Nursing Home Loan on behalf of an applicant with reduced capacity.
“The HSE has also published the application form and information booklet for the scheme and these will be available from today onwards. This should enable people to familiarise themselves with the application form and process, gather necessary information and generally prepare themselves so that they are ready to apply on the 27th October when the scheme is introduced.”
The Minister also confirmed that the National Treatment Purchase Fund has almost concluded its negotiations with private nursing homes.
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is an innovative new scheme of financial support for people in need of nursing home care. Its fundamental purpose is to make long-term nursing home care:
• Affordable and
Every person with need for residential care who applies for financial support will make a personal contribution to cost, strictly in accordance with their means. A person’s contribution will be limited to 80% of their disposable income. No one will be forced to sell or mortgage their home to pay for care. The families of care recipients will not be means tested or asked to contribute. The contribution related to house value (principal private residence) is 5% a year, capped at three years, but this contribution may be deferred for payment from the estate of the person.
Overall, the State will meet 70% of the cost of long term care with personal contributions covering the balance.
With these features, the scheme offers assurance to one of the most vulnerable sections of society- those in need of long-term nursing home care- that such care will be affordable and will remain affordable for as long as they need it.
The scheme also offers a further protection for nursing home residents through the new care representative. Under the scheme, care representatives can be appointed by the Circuit Court to represent the interests of applicants who have reduced capacity. This protection, which anticipates the forthcoming mental capacity legislation, is a further important safeguard for the interests of elderly or vulnerable people and a protection against possible financial abuse.
The Minister also pointed out that the Fair Deal was only one component in the overall Government commitment to the development of policy on services for older people in line with the principles set out and agreed under “Towards 2016”.
On 1st July, the she introduced a new regime of regulation and independent inspection by HIQA for all residential care settings for older people.
The Minister noted:
“2009 has been a time of enormous and ground-breaking change within the nursing home sector.
This year sees, for the first time, a single comprehensive system of registration and inspection for all nursing homes – public, private and voluntary - and a single comprehensive system of financial support covering all nursing homes – public, private and voluntary.
Both systems have the nursing home resident firmly at the heart of their service. I am delighted to introduce these fundamental reforms for the benefit and protection of current and future generations of nursing home residents”.
Information on the Nursing Homes Support Scheme is available on the DOHC website, www.dohc.ie, or can be obtained by calling the HSE Infoline 1850 24 1850.