Thursday, 28 September 2017
Department of Health
Nursing Homes Support Scheme Administration
It is Government policy to promote care in the community for older people so that they can continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible. The only statutory scheme in place at present to support older people is the Nursing Home Support Scheme, commonly known as ‘A Fair Deal’, and there have been calls to extend this scheme to cover home care services. However, the Government is committed to establishing a new separate statutory home care scheme along with a system of regulation for home care services. The Department of Health is currently engaged in a detailed process to progress this.
The statutory scheme for home care will introduce clear rules in relation to what services individuals are eligible for and how decisions are made on allocating services. For that reason, developing a new statutory scheme will be an important step in ensuring that the system operates in a consistent and fair manner for all those who need home care services. It will also help to improve access to the home care services that people need, in an affordable and sustainable way. The system of regulation for home care will help to ensure that the public can be confident that the services provided are of a high standard.
As an initial step, the Department commissioned the Health Research Board to undertake an evidence review of the home care systems that are in place in four other European countries. This review, which was published on 11 April, will help us to learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions and will inform the debate and future consideration of approaches to formal home care financing and regulation here in Ireland.
I, along with Minister Harris, also launched a public consultation on home care on 6 July. The purpose of this consultation is to allow all those who have views on this topic to have their say, including home care users, their families, and healthcare workers. It will also allow us to find out what people think about current home care services as well as the public’s views on what the future scheme should look like. The deadline for submissions is 2 October, 2017. A report of the findings of this consultation process will be published and the findings will be used by the Department in the development of the new home care scheme.
The development of a regulatory and funding model for home care services is a complex undertaking. While the public consultation and evidence review are important steps in the process of developing the new scheme, a significant amount of additional preparation needs to be carried out before final decisions are taken on the form of home care scheme and system of regulation. This is required if the reforms are to be successful, affordable and sustainable. Every effort will be made to progress this matter as quickly as possible.