Press Release

Ministers announce additional €1.75m which will support greater fairness and consistency for service users who reside in non-nursing community settings

Commencement of health legislation on 1 January 2017 will modernise contribution arrangements in various long-stay residential settings

  • These revised arrangements will not apply to residents supported under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Fair Deal)
  • Each service user (and/or their family member/personal advocate) will be contacted individually and will receive full details of the revised arrangements as well as receiving an individual assessment over the coming months
  • Additional funding of €1.75m is being made available to cap the maximum contribution in non-nursing settings at €70 per week
  • Comprehensive waiver provisions will ensure that service users will only be required to contribute within their means, taking account of any individual circumstances that may apply

Minister of State for Disabilities, Finian McGrath TD, and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee TD, today announced that from 1 January 2017 revised arrangements will apply for contributions towards maintenance and accommodation costs in certain long-stay settings (long-stay contributions), excluding residents supported under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Fair Deal). The legislation which introduced these long-stay contributions was passed by the Oireachtas in July 2013 and November 2014. The revised arrangements will achieve greater consistency and fairness for service users where accommodation and/or maintenance is provided directly by the HSE or by a section 38 agency funded to provide services on its behalf.

The relevant legislation was enacted to update the State’s legislation in this area; to better reflect the emerging models of residential care and to complement current government policy of moving from congregated settings to homes/independent living in the community, particularly in the disability and mental health sectors.

The new Residential Support Services Maintenance and Accommodation Contributions (long-stay contributions) framework will:

  • replace existing long-stay charges, with rates remaining unchanged
  • apply also to approximately 1,700 service users in the mental health and disability sectors who reside in non-nursing community settings funded by or on behalf of the HSE. The majority of these residents will contribute at the same or a lower level than at present – for instance, over 1,100 service users will contribute less per week. The new regulations will also allow for greater consistency and fairness as service users will contribute at a standardised level. The maximum weekly contribution rate will be €10 per day (€70 weekly) in these settings. Existing rent/kitty arrangements may continue except that the amount will be capped. Additional funding of €1.75m is being allocated to the HSE to support the new arrangements. Residents in such independent living settings will, after their contribution to accommodation and daily living costs is made, will be assured of retaining at least €118 of their weekly income for personal use.

The contributions relate only to accommodation and daily living costs, including food and utilities. There is no contribution or payment requirement in relation to the health-related care or services provided.

Announcing the commencement plans, Minister McGrath stated: “Under the new Regulations, there will be greater consistency and clarity than previously applied and most service users will continue to contribute towards the cost of their accommodation and maintenance at the same or at a lower level than at present. An additional €1.75m is being made available to support these new arrangements which will bring greater fairness and equality for those who reside in non-nursing community settings.

Comprehensive waiver provisions will ensure that contribution requirements are in line with what people can afford and tailored to people’s individual circumstances.”

Minister McEntee said: “The standardisation of contribution levels for people in community settings is an important step forward. In my view, the new framework will be fairer across the board with all service users required to contribute a standardised and affordable amount based on their individual circumstances.”

Each service user (and/or their family member/personal advocate) will be contacted individually and will receive full details of the revised arrangements as well as receiving an individual assessment over the coming months to determine his/her required level of long-stay contribution, taking account of any waiver that may apply.

Information leaflets for service users and their families will be available from service providers and have also been published on the HSE’s website (www.hse.ie/longstaycontributions). The HSE’s information line (1850 24 1850 – open 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday and 9.00am to 5.00pm on Saturday) is also available to clarify any queries that service users or their families may have regarding the new arrangements.

Ends

Notes to Editors
The legislation which introduced the new long-stay contributions framework is Sections 67A to 67D of the Health Act 1970, inserted by section 19 of the Health (Amendment) Act 2013 and amended by Part 3 of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014.

The associated Regulations Health (Residential Support Services Maintenance and Accommodation Contributions) Regulations 2016 were signed by Minister Harris today.

Section 12 of the Health (Amendment) Act 2013 also contains a provision which would increase the daily public inpatient charge in acute hospitals from €75 to €80 per day. The Minister for Health intends to avail of mechanisms within the Act to maintain this charge at its current level.

Long-stay contributions will apply to service users receiving long-stay residential services in certain settings where accommodation and/or maintenance (meals, heat, other utilities) are provided either directly by the HSE or by a section 38 agency funded by the HSE to provide such services on its behalf.

The contributions relate only to accommodation and daily living costs, including food and utilities. There is no contribution or payment requirement in relation to the health-related care or services provided.

The key features of the existing long-stay charges system (currently covering 7,000 service users approx.) are retained:

  • Actual contributions will depend, as now, on the individual’s income level and type of accommodation.
  • Waiver provisions will ensure that service users will only be required to contribute within their means, taking account of any individual circumstances that may apply. Comprehensive waiver guidelines will be published by the HSE in October following detailed briefing of staff responsible for implementing the new arrangements
  • The exemptions which currently apply to long-stay charges will continue to apply to long-stay contributions.
  • Contributions do not apply to the first 30 days in a rolling 12-month period

The majority of service users will contribute at the same or a lower level than at present, while a minority will experience some level of increase.

Additional funding of €1.75m is being made available to cap the maximum contribution in non-nursing settings at €70 per week and to meet the consequent income loss to the HSE and service providers.

Residents who rent their own accommodation (e.g. through a voluntary housing association) and whose food or utility bills are met by the HSE or a section 38 agency will have their contribution requirement reduced by the amount of rent they pay. Similarly, residents who fund or partly fund the cost of meals/utilities will receive a matching reduction.

The contributions framework will not apply to residents covered by the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Fair Deal) and such service users will remain unaffected by these new arrangements. A number of nursing home residents who opted to continue paying long-stay charges when Fair Deal was introduced will move to the new contributions, with rates remaining unchanged.

Under the new contributions framework:

  • In 24-hour nursing settings, residents will continue to pay a maximum of €175 per week.
  • Those in part-time nursing settings will continue to pay a maximum contribution of €130 per week.

A maximum rate of €10 per day or €70 per week will apply to residents of facilities where no on-site nursing service is provided (e.g. houses in the community in the disability and mental health care sectors).