The financial assessment for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme includes the following safeguards:
- Nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care.
- The first €36,000 for a person’s assets, or €72,000 for a couple, is not taken into account during the financial assessment.
- The principal residence is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of a person’s time in care.
- Where an individual’s assets include land and property in the State, the contribution based on such assets may be deferred and collected from their estate. This is the optional Nursing Home Loan element of the Scheme.
- Individuals keep a personal allowance of 20% of their income, or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (Non-contributory), whichever is the greater.
- Certain items of expenditure, called allowable deductions, can be taken into account during the financial assessment. These allowable deductions include health expenses, payments in respect of interest on monies borrowed for the purchase, repair or improvement of the principal residence or mortgage payments on the principal residence.
- There is a financial review mechanism which takes account of the fluctuating value of assets and the fact that cash assets will naturally deplete over time as payments are made to the nursing home etc.
When the Nursing Homes Support Scheme was introduced a commitment was made that it would be reviewed after three years. This review process is underway at present. 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,
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.
As the Scheme is statutory based, the implementation of any recommendations arising from the review may require amendments to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act, 2009.