Thursday, 24 October 2019
Department of Health
Nursing Homes Support Scheme Administration
159. To ask the Minister for Health his plans to deal with the 686 persons who are waiting for placement under the fair deal scheme; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the figures have increased drastically since 17 September 2019 when there were 525 persons waiting (details supplied). [43864/19]
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, commonly referred to as Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost.
As outlined in the HSE's National Service Plan for 2019, the NHSS is expected to support 23,042 people in 2019. The NHSS budget for 2019 is €985.8m which is an increase of €24.3m over its 2018 budget.
Over the last two years, an additional €45 million has been provided to NHSS budget for the continued provision of services in line with pricing and demand. As part of normal governance and performance management arrangements The Department and the HSE maintain regular service area engagements, which also form part of ongoing collaborative work on issues relating to older persons policy and service delivery.
The HSE have noted that the number of residents in nursing homes whom are supported by the NHSS to be ahead of forecast for the year to date.
Having regard to the available budget and the demand for support, the HSE releases funding in a managed way to ensure that the operation of the NHSS remains within the budgetary allocation. To manage the available funds throughout the year, a national placement list for the release of funding is operated by the HSE, to enable it to operate within budget. Funding issues to applicants in chronological order, to ensure equity nationally. Approved applicants are placed on the national placement list in order of their approval date and funding is released to applicants in order of their place on this list. The length of time spent on the placement list depends on the number of applicants currently receiving financial support and the number of new applications. Where demand is higher, the time spent on the waiting list may increase having regard for the prudent management of the Scheme's budget.
In the context of planning and preparing for the challenges of the winter period, the Department and the HSE have been considering a comprehensive approach to delayed transfers of care (DTOCs). An additional €26m has been made available for the last quarter of 2019 to support the hospital and community system to improve patient egress. The investment is supporting home support and transitional care as well as keeping the waiting time for access to support under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) at 4 weeks to the end of the year. The HSE were authorised to take immediate action in that regard last month, and released significant support to over 700 people to take up places under the NHSS and over 300 transitional care bed approvals. My Department is continuing active engagement with the HSE with regard to planning for the winter ahead. I understand that, as of 21st October, there are 433 people on the NHSS National Placement List and the wait time for funding release is within 4 weeks on average.