As of July 10 2015, there were 488 approved applicants awaiting funding under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, and the average waiting time was 4 weeks.
In Budget 2015, additional funding of €25m was provided under the Delayed Discharges Initiative to help alleviate the support services that provide alternatives to, and relieve pressures on, acute hospitals. Of this, €10m was used to provide an additional 300 places under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. This reduced the waiting time for approved applicants from 17 weeks to 11 weeks.
In April 2015 the Government provided a further €74m to address issues that impact on delayed discharges. Of this, €44m was allocated to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme to provide an additional 1,600 places and to further reduce waiting times for approved applicants from 11 to 4 weeks. It is expected that a waiting period of 4 weeks will be maintained for approved applicants for the rest of the year.
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) budget in 2015 is €993 million. The latest information available to me is that there are about 22,600 people now receiving financial support under the NHSS. The Scheme is continuing to take on new clients and it is estimated that we will be supporting in excess of 23,900 people by the end of this year.
The NHSS is currently the subject of a review, the Terms of Reference of which are: "Taking account of Government policy, demographic trends and the fiscal situation:
1. To examine the on-going sustainability of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme;
2. To examine the overall cost of long-term residential care in public and private nursing homes and the effectiveness of the current methods of negotiating/setting prices;
3. Having regard to 1. and 2. above, to consider the balance of funding between long-term residential care and community based services;
4. To consider the extension of the scheme to community based services and to other sectors (Disability and Mental Health); and
5. To make recommendations for the future operation and management of the scheme."
The review will be published very shortly.