Government Has Failed To Reform Nursing Home Scheme

The Irish Nursing Homes Organisation has criticised what it regards as the Government’s failure to reform the Nursing Home Subvention scheme. “The failure of the Government to radically reform the subvention scheme for persons in long-term residential care is extremely disappointing, and is causing serious distress for many elderly people and their families all over the country,” said Tadhg Daly, chief executive of the Irish Nursing Homes Organisation (INHO).

“While the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, and her Junior Minister, Sean Power, have both made commitments to rectify the situation over the past year, the issue still remains unresolved.

“At the weekend, the Tánaiste stated that she hoped to bring proposals to Cabinet in September.

“Meantime, the Nursing Home Subvention scheme, which was introduced in 1993 and was increased just once since then, provides a maximum subvention of €190.50 per week. There is general agreement that this is simply far too low and does not reflect the cost of providing care.

“The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that while some HSE regions provide enhanced subventions above the €190.50 figure, other do not. As a result, applicants and residents with the same level of need and resources are being treated differently in different HSE regions.

“It is inexplicable that a subvention grant should be awarded to a person who has no means, but falls short of the cost of care with no provision as to how the difference will be made up.

“It is also essential that, once the need for long-term care is established, access to public funding in either public, long-stay facilities, or private nursing homes, should be based on common assessment of income and wealth.

“This would end the current anomaly whereby a person applying for a subvention to a private nursing home is subject to a much more rigorous assessment than a person seeking admission to a bed in a public nursing home.”