The Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, has reiterated the governments full ongoing support for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as Fair Deal and to planned reforms of the scheme which will benefit farmers and small business people.
Minister Daly said: ‘’The Fair Deal 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.
“Fair Deal is expected to support 23,042 people in 2019 at a cost of €985.8m which is an increase of €24.3m over its 2018 budget.
“The HSE has noted that the number of residents in nursing homes whom are supported by the NHSS to be ahead of forecast by 0.7% for the year to date.
“In line with all good governance practices, the Department of Health is engaging in a detailed analysis and validation of this data to understand if specific trends can be identified in a real-time setting.
“This work will help to generate an informed view on the Scheme activity and ensure financial projections for the remainder of 2019 are accurate.”
Minister Daly also reiterated the government’s absolute support of key reforms in how the Nursing Homes Support Scheme treats farm and small business assets, and he confirmed his intention to bring heads of a bill to Government next month.
Minister Daly continued: “Currently, there is no cap on the contributions to the cost of care based on farm and business assets, except in the case where a person in possession of such assets has suffered a sudden illness or disability necessitating long-term residential care.
“The policy change, to cap contributions based on farm and business assets at 3 years where a family successor commits to working the productive asset, has been approved by Government.
“The Department of Health is working on the development of draft Heads of Bill with legal advisers on advice and legal quality control.
“The focus on Brexit has unfortunately had an impact on progressing the Heads of Bill.
“However, subject to legal advice, the Department expects to bring the Heads of Bill to Government in May.
“The changes to the Scheme will come into effect in 2019 subject to the legislative process.
“Farmers can also avoid the farm being included in NHSS consideration where the farm is transferred to the next generation 5 years prior to application for the NHSS,” the Cork South West Minister said.