In order to be an approved nursing home for the purposes of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme all private nursing homes, and voluntary nursing homes which previously received funding for long-term residential care under section 39 of the Health Act 2004, must negotiate and agree a price for the cost of long-term nursing home care with the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). This is necessary due to the commitment by the State to meet the full balance of the cost of care over and above individuals' contributions.
The NTPF is independent in the performance of this function and, in carrying it out, it must ensure value for money for both the individual and the State. The NTPF negotiates with each nursing home individually and may examine the records and accounts of nursing homes as part of the process. The NTPF assesses nursing home process under four criteria:
- costs reasonably and prudently incurred by the nursing home and evidence of value for money,
- price(s) previously charged,
- local market price, and
- budgetary constraints and the obligation on the State to use available resources in the most beneficial, effective and efficient manner to improve, promote and protect the health and welfare of the public.
If price negotiations break down, a three stage review process can be invoked. Details of the process are set out on the NTPF website.
Under the Health Act 2007, statutory responsibility is given to the Chief Inspector of Social Services, part of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), for the independent inspection and registration of all nursing homes, private and public. This responsibility is underpinned by a comprehensive regulatory framework and the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland. All nursing homes are subject to the same core standards and regulations in relation to quality and safety in order to ensure the well-being of their residents.