What is the Fair Deal Scheme in Ireland? It is also known as the Nursing Home Support Scheme and it was introduced in 2009. Before that nursing homes charged a certain amount and the family would usually make up the difference.
Nowadays if you decide to place a relative in a nursing home you will have to download a copy of the Fair Deal application form www.hse.ie/fair deal scheme/fair deal application form.
The first step is a Care Needs Assessment where the local public health nurse or your GP or a geriatrician will sign off to say that the older person requires nursing home care. They will ask questions about how the older person has been managing, whether they can wash and dress themselves, what their health issues are and so on. It is important that the older person insofar as possible understands what is going on (they may have capacity issues) and consents to going into a nursing home. If the older person is not willing to go to the nursing home then you will probably not be able to proceed. It is normal for older people to be wary at first but some people do need around the clock specialist care. Nursing home staff are highly trained to deal with the care needs of older people.
Most people worry about the cost of nursing home care, in fact they may not even consider a nursing home if they think that it will be too expensive. But in fact the scheme is designed to work as a percentage of your income and assets so it should not be unaffordable. A single person pays 80% of their income and 7.5% of their assets per annum.
But what about couples? HSE criteria is that if you have been to be living together as part of a couple for 3 years you and your partner will be assessed jointly for the scheme. If one person needs nursing home care he/she pays 40% of their total income. So if your mother needs to go into a home it is irrelevant whether the assets are in the man’s name, the woman’s name or joint in joint names. They pay 3.75% on the total assets.
The only other concession is that a couple is allowed to have €72,000 in savings whereas a single person can only have €36,000.
There is a cap of 3 years on the family home. What this means is that you will pay 22.5% on the value of the family home if you are single and 11.25% per person if you are part of a couple. The 3 year cap does not apply to other property. What this means is that you will have to continue paying the 7.5% (single) rate or the 3.75% rate (part of a couple) on the value of any other property indefinitely. If you have transferred an asset to a member of your family within the last 5 years the Revenue will clawback the value of that asset.
Farms and businesses are treated slightly differently but nonetheless subject to strict conditions. If you own a farm or a business you will only qualify for the 3 year cap if you have worked the land for 3 out of the previous 5 years and you or your successor must sign a statutory declaration that they will continue to work the land or the business for the next 6 years. These conditions cannot be met by every farm or business family and if that is the case they will not be able to benefit from the 3 year cap if their relative stays longer in the nursing home.
The Fair Deal scheme is a workable scheme provided that you fully understand the implications now and in the future. If you require specialist advice on the Fair Deal scheme please go to www.emerlavineldercare.ie to book a consultation.