Farm Ireland

Thursday 27 October 2016

How to get a fair nursing home deal

Theresa Murphy

Published 14/10/2015 | 02:30

Nursing homes can be the only option in certain cases
Nursing homes can be the only option in certain cases

Financial advice from our expert on the implications of the Fair Deal Scheme when caring for an elderly relative.

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Question: One of my parents is in need of full time care and the other will likely need the same in the not too distant future. I am a full time farmer and find that I cannot give them the care that they need at home. The family farm is still in my father's name although I have farmed it alone for more than ten years. How does the fair deal scheme work and will it affect my ability to farm if my parents move into a nursing home? Also, what will happen to my parent's home if they have to contribute towards their care?

Answer: Many people find themselves in the unenviable position where they cannot, for many different reasons, provide the type of care that elderly family members need within the home.

Although there are a number of financial supports available for the provision of care in the home by a family member, for example the Carer's Allowance, many find that nursing homes are the only option suited to their needs.

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, also known as the Fair Deal scheme, provides financial support for people who need long-term nursing home care.

Under the Fair Deal Scheme, the person in need of care (or often their family) will make a contribution towards the cost and the State will pay the balance. This applies whether the nursing home is public, private or voluntary.

However, it only applies to long term nursing home care and is not available for services like convalescent, respite or day care, even if these services are provided in a nursing home.

It is important to ensure that your parents have approval under the Fair Deal application scheme before they avail of nursing home care.

Applications are made to your local Nursing Home Support Office. The first step is an assessment of whether or not there is a long term need for nursing home care.

The assessment will consider whether the individual can be supported to continue living at home or whether long-term nursing home care is more appropriate. It is normally assessed by a nurse appointed by the HSE. If there is a need for long term care identified the next step is to apply for state support.

Contribution to care

A financial assessment will be carried out to determine the contribution that the person in need of care can make.

The assessment considers the income and assets of the applicant. The HSE will then pay the balance of your cost of care.

For example, if the cost is €1,000 and your weekly contribution is €300, the HSE will pay the weekly balance of €700.

In the case of your parents, provided they are a married couple or co-habiting for more than three years, the assessment will be based on half of the couple's combined income and assets where one or both is in nursing home care.

The person in need of care will contribute 80pc of their assessable income and 7.5pc of the value of any assets per annum. For example, if your parents' combined income is €1,000 per week, each parent will be considered to have an income of €500 and will be expected to contribute 80% of that €500 towards their care. However, the first €36,000 of each person's assets, or €72,000 for a couple, will not be counted at all in the financial assessment.

The principle residence/ family home

The principal residence (home) of the person needing care will only be included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care. This is known as the 22.5pc or 'three year' cap and it amounts to 7.5pc of the value of the home for three years.

In the case of a couple, the contribution based on the principal residence will be capped at 11.25pc. Where one member of the couple remains in the home while the other enters long term nursing home care the 'three year' cap applies.

The contribution based on such assets can also be deferred. This means that the person in care does not have to find the money to pay this contribution during their lifetime.

Instead, they can apply to the Nursing Home loan scheme called the Ancillary State Support' and if approved, the HSE will pay the money to the nursing home on their behalf and it will be collected after their death from their estate. The Revenue collect this money on behalf of the HSE.

REMEMBER: Assets transferred within five years of the need of nursing home care will be taken into consideration on the same basis as if the asset was still held by the person in need of care.

Theresa Murphy is a barrister based in Co Galway email:

How fair deal applies to farms and farm businesses

The farm or farm business is taken into account in the financial assessment of assets and  a charge of 7.5pc per annum applies. However, in some circumstances a three-year limit similar to the situation with the principal residence, where the charge is capped at 22.5pc can be applied. This cap applies to the farm in three circumstances:

Where the person has suffered a sudden illness or disability, which causes them to require long-term residential care;

Where the person or their partner was actively engaged in the daily management of the farm or relevant business up until the time of the sudden illness or disability and;

Where a family successor certifies that he or she will continue the management of the farm or relevant business.

A "family successor" includes not only a son/daughter, but also a spouse, partner, stepchild and niece/nephew.

The family successor is obliged to continue the management of the farm but a formal transfer of ownership is not required.

In the case of all contributions the price of care is agreed between the HSE and the nursing home care provider and the payments/contributions by the person in care will not exceed that.

Depending on the value of the home, there may be no need for a contribution from the value of the farm.

Also, by applying for the Ancillary State Support any contribution will be delayed and can be discharged out of the will. This should prevent disturbance to the farm business.

Appeals and Reviews

The HSE should inform you of the appeals process and provide details of your local Appeals Office when providing your care needs and financial assessments.

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