Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Questions (41)

Catherine Murphy


41. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the reason some nursing homes have been able to charge additional fees, outside the costs covered by the fair deal scheme, for very basic items such as mattresses and wound dressings which would reasonably be assumed to be covered by the standard charges; if he has initiated an investigation into this practice; the measures he proposes to address the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21143/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme provides financial support towards the cost of long-term residential care services in nursing homes. The 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.

In determining the services covered by the Scheme, it was considered very important that nursing home residents and taxpayers would be protected and would not end up paying for the same services twice. For this reason, goods and services that are already available to individuals under an existing scheme are not covered by the Scheme.

A person's eligibility for other schemes, such as the Medical Card Scheme or the Drugs Payment 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. Individuals availing of the Scheme should not be charged any additional fee over and above the contribution which has been calculated by the HSE, except where they choose to obtain additional services over and above long-term residential care services.

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. The HSE is not party to such contracts which are concluded between each resident and their nursing home.

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is currently the subject of a review. The terms of reference of this review are as follows:-

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);

5. To make recommendations for the future operation and management of the Scheme.

Work on the Review is ongoing. It is expected that the Review will be completed in the coming months and the Report will then be made publicly available.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 6.
Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 11.