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Written Answers - Care of the Elderly

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 489.  Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if he will revise the funding structure for community geriatric hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23948/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The introduction of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, A Fair Deal, in October 2009 brought about a fundamental change in the way in which long-term nursing home care is funded and, consequently, the way in which nursing homes are funded. In the past, public nursing homes/community geriatric hospitals would have been allocated a lump sum annually by the HSE. However, the Nursing Homes Support Scheme provides financial support to the individuals that need long-term nursing home care, not to the facilities providing the care. The scheme is designed to ensure that money follows the patients, regardless of whether they choose public, private or voluntary nursing homes, and to ensure that these facilities are not being funded for empty beds.

Funding arrangements in relation to other services which may be provided in public nursing homes/community geriatric hospitals, e.g. short-term care for respite, rehabilitation, convalescence etc, remain unaffected by the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. When the Scheme was introduced, a commitment was made to review its operation after three years. The reason for allowing this period to elapse is to ensure that trends and statistics will be available in order to inform the work.

The review of the Scheme will look at, amongst other issues:

[495] the ongoing sustainability of the scheme,

the relative cost of public versus private provision,

the effectiveness of current methods of negotiating price in private nursing homes and setting price in public nursing homes, and

the balance of funding between residential and community care.

The terms of reference for the review are being finalised at present. The Department of Health will be seeking tenders through the public procurement process for the carrying out of the review. This process takes approximately 4 months. It is also intended to carry out a public consultation over the summer to inform the review. It is anticipated that the review itself will take approximately three months to complete. It is expected that the review will commence in the last quarter of this year and be completed in early 2013.

As the Scheme is statutory based, the implementation of any recommendations arising from the review may require significant amendments to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act, 2009.


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