The Fair Deal Scheme has been a hotly discussed topic in recent months, with many calls from farmers and organisations alike for a legislative change.
What is the Fair Deal Scheme:
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is also widely known as the “Fair Deal Scheme”. This is a scheme offering financial support for people who are in need of long-term care and residential care services. Under the scheme people can make a contribution towards nursing home costs, while the state covers the remaining balance. Applicants cannot avail of State funding for a nursing home place prior to receiving approval of their Fair Deal application
Under the scheme, the prices charged by these Nursing Homes are agreed between the Private Nursing Home and the National Treatment Purchase fund. The weekly cost price of care is also provided.
The aim of the scheme is to provide help for those in need of financial assistance, but in reality it has left many farming families in a tough position. This is due to agricultural holdings being considered as assets in Fair deal applicants. Many farmers across the country have had the shoulder the financial burdens, almost entirely themselves.
An applicant must contribute 80% of his/her assessable income and 7.5% of the value of any
assets per annum.However, the first €36,000 of the applicant’s assets, or €72,000 in the case of a couple, will not be counted at all in the financial assessment.Where the applicant’s assets include land and property, the 7.5% contribution based on such assets may be deferred.
The applicant’s residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the
first 3 years of his/her time in care. This includes time spent in care before the commencement of the scheme. This is known as the 22.5% or ‘three -ear’ cap. This ‘three-year’ cap applies regardless of whether the applicant chooses to opt for the Nursing Home Loan. The ‘three-year’ cap will also extend to farms and business in certain circumstances.
As part of the scheme, nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care. All applicants will keep a personal allowance of 20% of his/her income or 20% of the
maximum rate of the State Pension. Any partner still living at home, will retain 50% of a couple’s income. If both members of a couple enter nursing home care, they each retain at least 20% of their income.
Costs to farming families:
Those farming families taking part in the scheme are the ones who are the hardest hit. With land being considered an asset, many farming families have been left to pay a majority of nursing home fees.
On average they are paying €900 per week in fees. With the average nursing home stay estimated at 2.9 years, this means farmers would need over €136,000 in savings just to survive.
What the Proposed changes are:
This has led to many calls from farmers, farming organisations and the IFA to implement legislative changes to the scheme. They have called for nursing home fees for farming families to be based on agricultural value, and not as assets.
They have also called for a reduction in the time allocated to the state to target these assets. They want the time reduced from five to three years. It is hoped this will also apply to any assets which may have been passed on from an elderly relative to a family member.
They also want the scheme to be made more available to people who received home care prior to entering nursing homes.
More meetings into the proposed changes are due to take place between the IFA and Minister Daly on November 15th. Many farmers will be waiting in anticipation for the results.