Press Release

Minister Announces Fair Deal on Long-Term Nursing Home Care

The Minister for Health, Mary Harney, T.D., today (Monday, December 11, 2006) announced A Fair Deal on Nursing Home Care Support Scheme which will start on the 1st of January, 2008.

It will make residential nursing home care for older people:

  • Accessible
  • Affordable and
  • Anxiety-free.

“At the moment, the one person in twenty who needs long-term care encounters a scrappy, inconsistent and unfair system that turns the issue of going into a nursing home into a trauma for them and for their family.

“Under the scheme in place since 1993, older people are anxious they’ll lose their home or be put under pressure to sell it,” she said. “Their adult children may feel under pressure to pay as much as €35,000 a year for their care. People on the same incomes can end up with vastly different care costs. Private nursing homes are unaffordable for many, even with subvention. And the subvention system itself is riddled with anomalies.”

“That’s going to stop.”

The Fair Deal will mean that:

  • Everybody will be asked to contribute towards their long-term nursing home care according to their means.
  • Everybody’s contribution will be measurably less than their income.
  • Everybody will be sure they won’t have to sell or mortgage their home.
  • Everybody will be sure their family won’t have to come up with cash to pay for their care.
  • Everybody will be guaranteed that payments levied against their home will:
    • Never exceed 15% of its value, and 7½% if one person in a couple needs care
    • Be deferred until the settlement of their estate.
  • Everybody’s need will be assessed the same way by the HSE.
  • Everybody’s financial situation will be assessed the same way by the HSE.
  • Everybody will receive financial support from the state towards that care – except where they clearly don’t need such help.

From 2008, each person needing long-term nursing home care will have an individual co-payment contract with the State which will be fair and equitable.

Because the Fair Deal on Nursing Home Care, 2008, is such a radical change, new legislation must be prepared and passed, information guidelines prepared and circulated and new systems and training put in place within the HSE and elsewhere before it can operate from the start of January, 2008.

However, in the interim, the Minister announced an initiative for 2007, to make the subvention system fairer.

This initiative will see the cumbersome three level subvention for nursing home care consolidated into one. The standard subvention will be up to €300 a week. Enhanced subvention will also continue. In addition, the “house value” threshold outside Dublin at which someone may be refused subvention is increased from 300,000 to 350,000.

These moves will allow 2,000 additional people to access care in private nursing homes.

“€85 million has been set aside to cover this improvement in 2007,” said the Minister. “It’s a down-payment on the Fair Deal coming in 2008. The Fair Deal increases affordability of long-term nursing home care in a fair way from 1 January, 2008.”

She stressed that nobody currently resident in either a private or a public nursing home is going to be worse off as a result of the new policy or the Interim Plan.

“Guidelines will be issued to the HSE to ensure that if there’s any effect on an older person already in long term nursing home care, it’ll be a good effect,” she stated.

“The policy I’ve set out today is a fair deal for our older generation who built up this country. It’s a fair deal for those of us at middle age whose parents are fortunately still with us. And it’s a fair deal for younger people who will inherit the running of a country that took the benefits of a boom and applied them to what matters.”

The Minister stressed that two recent Budgets had added €400 million to services for older people, particularly to support older people with care at home. “There’ll be five times more home care packages next year than in 2005. We are adding many more home helps hours of support too.

“We will fund 1,210 new long term care beds in 2007, the majority of them, 860, in the public sector”.

“Our policy is fundamentally to support people at home and to provide reassurance and certainty about long term residential care.”

“We are also publishing legislation this week to set and enforce standards for all nursing homes, both public and private.”

Details of the new proposals and the changes in subvention for 2007 will be available on the HSE website, www.hse.ie, later today, and the HSE infoline will be also be available from tomorrow 8am to 8pm on 1850 24 1850.

Read the Minister’s speech