The Nursing Homes Support Scheme provides financial support towards the cost of long-term residential care services in nursing homes. Under the Scheme, applicants contribute up to 80% of their assessable income and a maximum of 7.5% of the value of any assets per annum towards their cost of care. The first €36,000 of an individual's assets, or €72,000 in the case of a couple, is disregarded from the financial assessment. Applicants, therefore, retain at least 20% of their income. However, it should be noted that the Scheme also provides for a minimum retained threshold. This ensures that applicants retain at least 20% of the maximum amount of the State Pension (Non-Contributory). Applicants are free to spend this retained income as they wish. The Nursing Homes Support Scheme covers the cost of the standard components of residential care, which are:
- nursing and personal care appropriate to the level of care needs of the person,
- bed and board,
- basic aids and appliances necessary to assist a person with the activities of daily living, and
- laundry service.
A person's eligibility for other schemes, such as the Medical Card Scheme or the Drugs Payments Scheme, is unaffected by participation in the Nursing Homes Support Scheme or residence in a nursing home. Incontinence wear, where required, is provided free of charge by the HSE to all Nursing Homes Support Scheme residents that possess a Medical Card.
In determining the services covered by the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, it was considered very important that the resident and the taxpayer would be protected and would not end up paying for the same services twice. For this reason, goods and services that are already available under an existing scheme are not included in the services covered by the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. Part 8 of the Health Act 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2009 stipulates that the registered provider of the nursing home must agree a contract with each resident within one month of their admission. This contract must include details of the services to be provided to that resident and the fees to be charged. Residents should not be charged fees which are not set out in the contract.