Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Questions (719)

Richard Boyd Barrett


719. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the method and parameters for means testing and negotiation of the nursing home support scheme; the considerations made in regard to a spouse who relies on the pension of the person in nursing home care and or availing of the scheme and in cases in which the spouse may not have a State pension or a private pension to live on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3807/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for those in need of long-term nursing home care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their income and assets while the State pays the balance of the cost.

The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings. An applicant to the scheme can choose any public, voluntary or approved private nursing home. The home must have availability and be able to cater for the applicant's particular needs.

Participants in the Scheme contribute up to 80% of their assessable income and a maximum of 7.5% per annum of the value of assets held. Assets include cash assets and all forms of property whether situated in the State or not. The capital value of an individual’s principal private residence (PPR) is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care. This is known as the three year cap.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has been designated by the Minister for Health pursuant to Section 40 of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 as a body authorised to negotiate with proprietors of non-HSE registered nursing homes to reach agreement in relation to the maximum price(s) that can be charged for the provision of long-term residential care services to NHSS residents.

As part of this function, the NTPF will enter into "Approved Nursing Home Agreements" with registered private and voluntary nursing homes to record the maximum price(s) that have been negotiated.

- The Scheme has a number of important safeguards built into the financial assessment which ensures that:

- Nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care;

- An applicant will keep a personal allowance of 20% of his/her income or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is greater. This is in recognition of the fact that, although the NHSS covers core living expenses, residents can still incur some costs in a nursing home, such as social programmes, newspapers or hairdressing;

- If an applicant has a spouse/partner remaining at home, they will be left with 50% of the couple’s income or the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is greater;

- If both members of a couple enter nursing home care, they each retain at least 20% of their income, or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is greater;

- Certain items of expenditure, called allowable deductions, can be taken into account for the financial assessment, including health expenses, payments required by law, rent payments and borrowings in respect of a person’s principal private residence;

- A person’s eligibility for other schemes, such as the Medical Card Scheme or the Drug Payment Scheme, is unaffected by participation in the Nursing Homes Support Scheme or residence in a nursing home.