Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Questions (281)

Bríd Smith


281. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the entitlements to dental benefits and cover of older persons in receipt of a full medical card who are full-time residents in nursing homes and covered by the fair deal scheme; if his attention has been drawn to some nursing homes charging the full costs of dental treatments to these residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22666/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as A Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost. The NHSS covers the cost of the standard components of long-term 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 payment scheme, is unaffected by participation in the NHSS or residence in a nursing home.

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) enables medical card holders to access basic dental treatment free of charge from contracted dental surgeons in the private sector. In addition, the Public Dental Service of the HSE provides oral healthcare to vulnerable patients and patients with special needs.

If the Deputy is aware of any incidents of nursing homes charging the full costs of dental treatment, she may wish to forward details to my Department and I will arrange to have the matter investigated by the HSE.

Future provision of oral healthcare services will be informed by Smile agus Sláinte, the new National Oral Health Policy, which was published last month. Smile agus Sláinte aims to reduce oral health inequalities by providing additional support to vulnerable groups to access oral healthcare and improve their oral health. One of the priority actions of the Policy is to commence identification of vulnerable groups and develop clinical care pathways and clinical management for these patients.