I am informed by my colleague with responsibility for Older People, Minister Jim Daly, that the changing demographics and the implications for future health care costs underpin the importance of developing a wider choice of appropriate housing options for older people suited to their needs. The aim is to encourage and facilitate timely planning by older people and to rebalance the care model away from residential care to supporting older people to remain living independently at home for longer. As the research shows, this reflects the preferences of older people themselves.
The aim is to ensure that older people will have more choice by developing a range of housing options that are suited to their needs, so they can plan ahead and, insofar as possible, choose the right option for them. These options may include retirement villages, housing with supports projects or other initiatives.
However, it is envisaged that there will always be a cohort of people for whom residential nursing home care is the most appropriate option. The main issue is the significant gap in alternative or intermediary options. This is the issue that Minister Daly wishes to address. Ultimately the model of care with regard to older people must evolve and reform, including in relation to nursing homes. This is the vision set out in Sláintecare.
In terms of my own responsibilities as Minister for Disabilities, the Deputy will be aware that the Report “Time to Move on from Congregated Settings – A Strategy for Community Inclusion” proposes a new model of support in the community, moving people from Congregated settings to the community in line with Government policy.
The Programme for Partnership Government contains a commitment to continue to move people with disabilities out of congregated settings, to enable them to live independently and to be included in the community. The objective is to reduce this figure by one-third by 2021 and ultimately, to eliminate all congregated settings.
By the end of this year, it is expected that under 2,200 people with a disability will remain living in congregated settings. I want to emphasise that the appropriate supports and resources are being put in place to ensure that people are supported as they move out of residential centres. The model of care for individuals will be based on a person centred plan (PCP). The PCP may change over time in line with an individual’s needs and circumstances and the model of service delivery applicable at a particular time.
In the context of residents in St Mary of the Angels, any opportunity for residents to live in smaller settings in the community will come after considerable planning and discussion with those residents and their families. It will be on the basis that it will enhance their life, and anyone who moves will continue to access the services they require.
As the HSE is responsible for leading out on the recommendations on "Time to Move on from Congregated Settings - A Strategy for Community Inclusion", I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.