Friday, 16 July 2021
Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages
Alice-Mary Higgins (Independent)
I was happy to support all of the early sections we flew through because I support the Bill. It is doing something important. Addressing the question of the three-year cap is really constructive and the amendments on a house being sold are positive also. There are many very good measures in the Bill. This is not challenging those measures. It is addressing a scenario. I am highlighting an issue. There is the idea that people stay in their homes for as long as they can. I worked with older people throughout the country. I went into residential care homes when we were discussing universal healthcare. I met older people in residential care homes throughout the country when I worked for Older & Bolder. There was an idea that nursing homes were not the future of healthcare. I asked the people in them what they would like. Something people spoke about was that they want other options. They did not state that they held on for as long as they could in their homes and now were in nursing homes. People would like new options even though they are in a residential care home. This is not to critique the scheme. I would prefer a statutory home care scheme. I have been very clear on this and I know the Minister of State knows it.
A care needs assessment is fine once but perhaps we should be looking at a new care needs assessment two or three years down the line. When we have statutory home care coming on stream in a proper way, perhaps it will require a new care needs assessment for people in residential care homes who may want to move to it. It does not have to be a one-way street. This is an empowering message and something we can do. It is about looking at the care needs assessment. People can move away but they are nervous about how they do so. There is the issue, for example, of how we manage financial vulnerabilities. I know people will only be charged for the amount of care they have had. Will that charge be upfront? Will it be later? If it is attached to an asset will it wait? If people move into a statutory home care system that requires them to make a different contribution in a different way how will it transition? I am signalling these issues with regard to giving people personal choices in an ongoing way and ensuring there is no financial obstacle. They may be financial logistical obstacles to these transitions and, if so, they need to be addressed. I will not press the amendment but I signal that we need to tease this out. The more of this we do in advance, the better the impact we will have on statutory home care and the better life options there will be for those in residential care.