Seanad debates

Friday, 16 July 2021

Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages

 

9:30 am

Photo of Alice-Mary HigginsAlice-Mary Higgins (Independent)

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 59, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following: “Report

33. The Minister shall, within 12 months of the passing of this Act, lay a report before both Houses of the Oireachtas making further recommendations in relation to the financial assessment of persons applying for financial support in respect of long-term residential care services or such matters as may be considered in terms of that financial assessment including potential provisions in respect of education and training.".

This relates to a set of concerns that the members of the committee which deals with disability matters have engaged on. It relates to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The Minister of State is aware of the report from the Ombudsman entitled Wasted Lives and the disgraceful position of young people with disabilities placed in long-term residential care. The committee heard some strong testimony and one important aspect was almost that we should stop digging by having more people placed in such care. There were 18 or 19 people transitioned from such care but another 20 went in last year.

This is a somewhat small ameliorating measure. I do not know if the matter can be addressed through regulations either. There is the question of what can be deducted in terms of financial assessment for those who are in the fair deal nursing home support scheme. When a person is being assessed for the contribution, there are elements that can be subtracted and where funding can be reserved. In some cases, all the income may go in, but with some very small points of reservation. There is an anomaly where a deduction is allowed in order to pay for the education of a child. There is no deduction allowed for a person's own education or training, however. That is an anomaly. There may be older people who want to pursue education and training but for a young person in particular who is in this scheme, there is no allowance to hold back money for his or her education. This could be done if the person in question had a child but it cannot be done for one's own education. It is kind of an anomaly. It exists because it was never envisaged we would have young people in this scheme but we do. There are over 1,000 young people in it and it is really important their education and payment for their education should be an eligible deduction in the financial assessment and how much income they must contribute towards upkeep in a residential care home.

This is a small matter but we should deal with it while we are addressing the need to decongregate these people. Looking at the questions in the Wasted Lives report, we should at least ensure that those young people who find themselves wrongfully in this position of long-term residential care in nursing homes should at least be able to take steps towards the next part of their lives. It would be small gesture of hope and allow people to make plans for their future and not just that of their children.

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