Written Answers. - Nursing Home Subventions.

Paul Bradford

Ceist:

83 Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on whether the maximum rate of nursing home subvention is falling well behind the actual cost of nursing home care; if he will increase the maximum rate of subvention accordingly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15468/98]

Paul Bradford

Ceist:

84 Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans, if any, he has to ensure an increase in the number of private nursing home beds available for elderly people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15469/98]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 84 together.

The Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990, gives powers to the health boards to enforce high standards of accommodation and care in nursing homes. The Act also introduced a new system of nursing home subventions so that dependent people most in need of nursing care would have access to such care. The scheme is intended to assist persons in meeting the cost of nursing home care but it is not intended to meet the full costs involved. The legislation respects in full the private or voluntary ownership of homes and makes no provision for State involvement in the level of fees charged or the amount of accommodation provided by this sector.
Additional funding was made available by my Department in late 1997 to facilitate health boards in the implementation of Nursing Homes legislation, including the Nursing Homes (Subvention) (Amendment) Regulations, 1996. These regulations allow boards, inter alia, to pay an enhanced subvention in certain circumstances. The question of increasing the level of subvention will be considered in the light of the availability of resources and other priorities in respect of the development of services for older people.
A new capital programme for services for older people is close to completion and will be announced shortly. The programme will involve a significant increase in the level of resources previously made available. This investment will accelerate the provision of additional health board extended care facilities, rehabilitation, convalescent, respite-intermittent care and day care facilities for older people throughout the country.