The Nursing Home Subvention Scheme provides financial assistance to older people towards the cost of maintenance in a private nursing home.
The scheme is governed by the Health (Nursing Homes) (Amendment) Act, 2007. Under the Act, the maximum amount for basic subvention is €300 per week. The Act also provides for enhanced subvention to be paid. However, there is no maximum amount set for enhanced subvention. The amount paid is at the discretion of the HSE and will vary depending on the following criteria:
the assessed means of the applicant,
the cost of care in the individual case compared to the level of fees in the locality,
the amount of basic subvention payable,
the amount of resources available for the scheme,
the need for the HSE to ensure that the available resources are distributed in a way that supports applicants as evenly as possible across the country.
In order to qualify for a subvention, an individual must be:
(a) sufficiently dependent to require maintenance in a nursing home, and
(b) unable to pay any or part of the cost of maintenance in the home. In order to determine this, they must undergo a means assessment which takes account of their income and assets.
The legislation provides for an individual's means to be reviewed. In addition, the HSE's National Guidelines for the Standardised Implementation of the Subvention Scheme state that an individual's means should be reviewed at least on an annual basis. This would take account of reductions in a person's income or level of savings. However, the Guidelines further state that reviews of means can be undertaken at any time, when the means of the client warrant a review.
At present, there are approximately 15,500 residents in private nursing homes. Of these, approximately 9,000 are in receipt of subvention. A further 3,000 are in "contracted" beds in private nursing homes. People in contract beds pay public nursing home charges and the State pays the balance of the cost.
Finally, a person may also apply to the HSE for a public long-term care bed. However, access to a public bed is subject to availability.