Majority pay care home bill upfront to protect assets
THE majority of nursing home residents are managing to prevent the State getting its hands on assets such as the family house after their death.
New figures show more than 19,500 people are paying the costs upfront over their lifetime under the Fair Deal scheme, which is aimed at making nursing home care affordable.
Just 2,671 are deferring the payments until after death, allowing the State to maintain a claim on assets such as the family home or other property.
Under the scheme introduced in October 2009, nursing home residents can pay costs, subsidised by the Health Service Executive (HSE), upfront or defer most of the bill until after their death. If they defer the cost, the State can lay claim to part of their assets.
An extra €6m was provided for the scheme for 2011 in the last Budget -- but the money is capped so there is a risk that if it runs out people will have to go on waiting lists.
Not all older people have assets -- but it is clear that many still hold their property dear.
As many as 19,569 have applied for support under the deal, which will allow them to pay for their care during their lifetime, based on a means test.
The figures from the HSE show that 77pc of these applications have been processed since the scheme came into place.
Where assets include land and property, a 5pc contribution to help pay for the nursing home care can be taken over three years and claimed, with interest, after a person's death.
It is capped at 15pc and for most people this will be levied on the family home, regardless of the length of time a person spends in the nursing home.
In the case of a couple, the contribution is capped at 7.5pc where one partner remains in the family home while the other enters care.
The option that the majority are seeking involves undergoing a financial assessment and paying their contribution based on their income and assets. The 15pc cap on assets also applies.
If the care bill is €1,000 a week, a resident will pay €300, with the HSE paying the balance.
Commenting on the figures, Eamonn Timmins, of Age Action Ireland said he was not surprised at the efforts by people to hold on to their home.
"Based on the reaction we received after the scheme was announced, it was clear that many people felt very aggrieved that the State could make that claim after their death.
"I have no doubt many families are clubbing together to pay the cost. The pity is that 3,000 people could not afford to do so."