Government must ensure Fair Deal does not further penalise elderly people – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has commented on today’s publication by the Government of a report on the Fair Deal scheme raising particular concern about the proposals on funding.
Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:
“At present, the scheme unfairly targets the income and finances of elderly people accessing the scheme. The Government currently takes up to 80% of their income and 7.5% of the value of their assets per year over three years. Minister Lynch has previously stated that ‘the notion you would pay €260-€290 for a service costing anything up to €1,120 is unsustainable’, yet she has also stated that she thinks the extra funds should be sourced from the Exchequer.
“The Government will now establish a Working Group composed of representatives of the various parties. Minister Lynch has said that nursing home residents under the Fair Deal Scheme will not have to pay an increased contribution towards their care. The Minister of State is sending out mixed messages against the backdrop of a report that has various proposals that would lead to families and individuals bearing an increased cost. I call on the Minister to outline her and her Government’s vision for the funding of Fair Deal and the provision in the first instance of the essential supports to allow our senior citizens continue to live safely in their own home, the choice of their greater number.
“With an ageing population and projected increased demand I welcome the fact that the Government is finally addressing these issues. I am very concerned, however, that they might still do so in an unfair way. I understand that most of the options outlined in the review would see residents and families paying more than at present. Among the possibilities is a reduction of the asset value figure that is exempt from the fair deal assessment, currently the first €36,000 of an individual’s assets or €72,000 in the case of a couple.
“This year has seen a significant increase in those waiting for Fair Deal Scheme approval with predictions that 2,200 people could be waiting by the end of the year with waiting times rising to 18-20 weeks. What needs to happen is that we move entirely from this flawed scheme to a rights based system whereby vulnerable citizens can receive long term care when needed and thereby reduce the reliance on acute hospital beds.”