Uncertain future for Fair Deal scheme
When former Health Minister Mary Harney introduced the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme in 2009 the promise was that it would be accessible, affordable and anxiety-free.
There was a desperate need for a solution to the financial hardship faced by people who had to sell their homes to pay the €1,000-a-month fees. The existing subvention system was patchy and elderly people worried what would happen when the money ran out. The new scheme would provide financial support to people who need long-term nursing home care. People would make a contribution towards the cost of their care and the State would pay the balance. A person's contribution was be limited to 80pc of their disposable income. No one would be forced to sell or mortgage their home to pay for care.
The contribution was 5pc to the value of any assets annually. The demands led to this being increased to 7.5pc in 2013. But as the population increases so the pressures on the scheme are escalating. HSE chief Tony O'Brien said it was the "Achilles heel" of the service and Minister of State Kathleen Lynch signalled that people would be asked to pay more. This will cause concern. The reassurance is a promise that it will be done in the context of a wide-ranging review of the scheme due shortly.