Both myself and my colleague, Dr. James Reilly, Minister for Health, are committed to the provision of a quality public nursing home service. Our overall objective is to protect the viability of as many units as possible within the funding and staffing resources available. My Department is working closely with the HSE to develop an overall plan regarding future public provision for the Minister’s consideration. The plan will reflect regional need and have regard to the current severe financial constraints, restrictions on public sector staffing and recruitment and the ongoing need to meet service and safety standards, all of which pose challenges for community nursing units across the country.
As the Deputy is aware the over-65 population recorded in Census 2011 was 535,393, an increase of 14.4% from 2006. Compared to population growth of 8.2% in the State as a whole, this is one of the age groups which experienced greatest growth over the period. The funding available for services for older people cannot increase at the same rate as the relevant population, and we will therefore have to ensure that the funds that are available are used to best effect for our older people.
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme provides financial support for those in long term nursing home care in accordance with their means. This Scheme is currently being reviewed. The terms of reference for the review are:
Taking account of Government policy, demographic trends and the fiscal situation-
1. To examine the on-going sustainability of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme,
2. To examine the overall cost of long term residential care in public and private nursing homes and the effectiveness of the current methods of negotiating/setting prices,
3. Having regard to 1 and 2 above, to consider the balance of funding between long-term residential care and community based services,
4. To consider the extension of the scheme to community based services and to other sectors (Disability and Mental Health), and
5. To make recommendations for the future operation and management of the Scheme.
Work will continue on the review in the coming months with a view to completion by end 2013-early 2014.