Press Release

Minister Kathleen Lynch T.D. Publishes Review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme

The Review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme was published by today, Monday 20th July 2015. The review is available on the Department’s website  here

The Review was carried out by the Department in collaboration with the HSE with input from Deloitte and Touche as external consultants. Based upon the experience of operating the Scheme over the last five years and the findings of the Review, it has been possible to identify a number of administrative improvements.  Specific recommendations are to:

  • standardise or centralise certain administrative processes;
  • develop the use of information technology and web-based systems;
  • enhance application materials and make these easier to understand;
  • improve procedures used in the validation of financial information submitted by applicants and in the recovery of deferred contributions; and
  • develop new approaches to setting nursing home prices to ensure that value, adequate capacity, and transparency are achieved.

The Government has decided to establish a Working Group composed of representatives of a number of Departments, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (where relevant)  to oversee implementation of these recommendations.

The Review identifies the Scheme as an effective contributor to the long-term care needs of older people but that, in line with the preferences of older people generally, a range of other supports are required to enable older people to remain living at home for longer or in adapted accommodation.  This is consistent with existing policy and should guide the development of an expanded range of community services in parallel with the continued operation of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

The future financing of the Scheme is considered in the Review.  The Government has decided to make no changes in this area.  The Scheme has been judged as successful in its first five years of operation and the priority in the next phase will be to implement administrative improvements outlined above. The full funding of the Scheme in 2015 and the projected requirements over the next three years are such as to provide a stable financial context within which these administrative reforms can be delivered.

Minister for Primary Care, Social Care and Mental Health Kathleen Lynch said: “With any completely new Scheme it makes sense to take stock after an initial period of bedding in.  This is what we have now done for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme.  The Review shows an overwhelmingly positive picture of the Scheme which meets a critical need in a very fair and transparent way.

Of course we have identified some things that require attention and adjustment. This is to be expected and work will commence immediately on these areas, particularly those that can be addressed quickly on an administrative basis. Other issues, such as further emphasis on community care and the development of new models of residential care, will take longer but are also very important.

The Review looks at the future financing of the Scheme and various options are set out. However, a key message today for those who feel that they or their loved ones may be approaching a need for long-term residential care is that the Government is committed to ensuring that nursing home care will continue to be available to all who need it. The Government is not contemplating any fundamental change to eligibility for the Scheme or the rates of contribution asked of participants.”

Ends

Additional Information
Some 22,605 people in need of long-term nursing home care currently benefit from this Scheme.  The Review confirms the significant improvements achieved with the introduction of the Scheme over five years ago. Previous arrangements involved placements in public nursing homes and contracted or subvented places in private nursing homes but the financial support for these was neither comprehensive nor equitable.  In contrast, the Nursing Homes Support Scheme has made nursing home care accessible to everyone assessed as needing it, facilitated contributions based upon means and has allowed people to choose the facility that best meets their particular needs and preferences.

The approved budget for the Scheme is €993 million which will support 23,960 in nursing home care by the end of 2015.  The Government increased this budget by €54 million this year, allowing the waiting time following approval to be brought down to four weeks.  The Review forecasts the numbers likely to benefit from the Scheme over the coming years and the additional costs involved.  By 2018 it is projected that the number of people benefiting from the Scheme will grow by up to 1,126, at an additional Exchequer cost of €49 million over the three year period.  Over the medium to long term demographic trends are likely to see the number of people benefiting from the scheme grow from 22,605 in May 2015 to 33,070 by the end of 2024.  This projected increase is in line with forecast growth in the number of people in the population in older age groups such as those over 85 years.