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Sunday 21 January 2018

Review must not squeeze residents' meagre funds

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The report by Age Action on the nursing home fees imposed on residents for services not covered by the Fair Deal scheme is full of reasonable and practical suggestions.

Health officials could do worse than take on board some recommendations to solve this emotive and distressing issue.

A review of the Fair Deal scheme by the Department of Health was due last month and is now behind deadline.

Changes must be made to reduce the financial stress faced by residents and also the sense of grievance felt by private nursing home owners.

Private nursing homes say they have to charge for extras like social activities, incontinence wear and therapies, which are not covered by Fair Deal - and Age Action accepts they have a case.

But it says they cannot justify exorbitant fees for services elderly people do not use.

There must be some middle ground. And the proposal by Age Action that a resident is independently assessed under the Fair Deal scheme to determine if they need therapies or other supports has merit.

This could then be taken into account in calculating how much the elderly resident pays for their care. Their Fair Deal contribution would be reduced to allow them to pay for these extras. It would mean that their very meagre disposable income is not squeezed.

There also has to be some way of determining how these fees for services are calculated.

The variations in top up fees found by Age Action - ranging from €15 to €100 a week - make no sense.

In the meantime families have been left in limbo. Many of those who have asked the organisation for advice are terrified of the nursing home discovering they have spoken out for fear of repercussions.

Irish Independent

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