Currently, the Ombudsman's remit extends to patients in public nursing homes only. In accordance with the Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 2012, it is my intention to extend, by Ministerial Order, the Ombudsman's remit to private nursing homes whose residents are in receipt of state support or subvention. By extending the Ombudsman's remit, greater accountability and assurance will be afforded to patients of these nursing homes and to their families.
The State, through the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, provides financial assistance for those who require long-term nursing home care, with residents contributing a portion of the cost in accordance with their means. In doing so, it funds 22,142 nursing home residents as of end March 2015. This represents residents in public, voluntary and private long-term residential care receiving financial support.
As prescribed by the Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 2012, I have begun a consultation process on the draft Ministerial Order extending the Ombudsman's remit. This includes the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman for Children, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, the Health Service Executive, the Health Information and Quality Authority, and Nursing Homes Ireland. Following this consultation process, I expect the Order will be in place by end June.
A private nursing home which the Deputy describes as 'self-funded' and which has no residents in receipt of State support is not in receipt of public moneys and accordingly does not come within the remit of the Ombudsman as defined in legislation. The Order will not extend therefore to such 'self funded' private nursing homes.
Since 2009, all nursing homes, private, voluntary and public, have been registered and inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority.