Dáil debates

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Bill 2008: Second Stage (Resumed)


11:00 am

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)

I welcome the opportunity to complete the slot commenced by my colleague, Deputy Caoimghín Ó Caoláin. A number of questions remain to be answered. How long a delay can we expect in the commencement of the Bill? Will we see the creation of a massive waiting list for nursing home care? Thousands of people may be assessed as being in need of such care, but will the places be available for them. Age Action Ireland has asked how a waiting list might work. Would it be on the basis of first come first served, or on grounds of need, with those most urgently requiring care being accommodated first? Has this actually been worked out yet?

Another key question asked by Age Action Ireland is if the Bill is enacted, whether this means an older person assessed as being in need of full-time medical and nursing care who refuses to sign up to the new charging arrangement, whereby he or she will pay up to 80% of the valuation of the home and up to 15% of his or her estate, will be refused essential care by the State. Other concerns include the fact the Bill does not recognise the situation of siblings who share the same house although it does recognise married, cohabiting and same sex couples.

People could be charged twice in their lifetime. A person could pay a 7.5% share of the home on behalf of a partner who is in care and if he or she sold the home and later needed nursing home care himself or herself, he or she could face a 15% charge on the new home. Another vital issue is the need for a draft national quality standard for residential care settings to be approved and in place before the scheme commences. There are many more serious issues and questions raised by the detail of the Bill which need to be teased out on Committee Stage.

Sinn Féin cannot support this Bill. It is a move from universal entitlement and is not rights-based or comprehensive in providing the wide range of care older people require.


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