The nursing homes support scheme, also known as the “Fair Deal” Scheme, is a scheme that most people are familiar with. In recent times it has been advocated that the scheme should be reviewed particularly when the person in need of long- term nursing home care is the owner of agricultural property.
In essence, the scheme provides financial support to people who need long-term nursing home care. The scheme does not cover short term care such as respite care. The scheme is operated by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and is based on you making a contribution towards the cost of your care with the State paying the balance. In order to apply for the fair deal you must be ordinarily resident in the state and you must be assessed as to your care needs and your financial
In the first instance your care needs are assessed to confirm that long term nursing home care is the most appropriate option for you. This assessment is carried out by appropriate healthcare professionals such as a HSE appointed nurse. Once it has been determined that nursing home care is appropriate the next step in the process is a financial assessment.
Assets such as income, savings, property and shares are taken into account when assessing your financial position and the level of financial contribution that you can make to your care. In the case of a couple, the assessment will be based on half of the couple’s combined income and assets. In recent commentary the inclusion of the family farm as one of the assets of the applicant in calculating the level of contribution required has generated a significant amount of discussion and political calls for reform.
A recent High Court decision saw the High Court stopping the sale of a €1.6 million farm in a care costs case. The farm owner was a ward of court as he had no immediate relatives and the committee appointed to look after his affairs decided to put his farm up for sale to cover his care costs. A distant relative intervened on the grounds that the owner would not want the farm to be sold. The High Court agreed with the relative who was agreeable to paying for the nursing home care from his own resources with a view to being reimbursed in due course from the owner’s estate when his will was being dealt with. Mr. Justice Binchy said “There is a strong tradition in Irish agriculture for families not to sell the land.”
This article will update you further if changes are introduced to the operation of the Fair Deal scheme.
Seek Legal Advice if in doubt!