herald

Saturday 1 November 2014

How new Fair Deal scheme could cover nursing home costs

Dan White answers your financial questions

My mother is now in her eighties and is no longer able to look after herself.

For the past few years, my sisters and I have taken it in turns to look after her but her condition has worsened recently and we now have no option but to seek full-time nursing home care for her.

My mother receives the State old-age pension and owns her own home. However, she has very little savings.

How can we pay for nursing home care? We have been advised by my mother's doctor that the State will pay for most of the cost of her nursing home care. How does this work and is my mother eligible?

Pat

The Department of Health's new Fair Deal scheme for nursing home care for the elderly comes into force on October 27.

Under the new scheme, the State will pay for up to 70pc of the cost of nursing home care for the elderly.

Any elderly person seeking State support towards their nursing home costs must first submit a care-needs assessment to the HSE.

This assessment must be carried out by a healthcare professional such as a nurse.

The assessment must conclude that the elderly person actually needs nursing home care.

Assets

If the care-needs assessment does judge that the elderly person requires nursing home care, then a financial-needs assessment must be conducted.

This will look at the elderly person's income and assets.

Under the new scheme the elderly person will contribute 80pc of their income and 5pc per year of the value of any assets which they own towards the cost of their nursing home care. The Department of Health will pay the rest.

However, the elderly person or their family does not have to pay the 5pc annual charge up-front.

Instead, the Department can loan them the money which is collected from their estate after their death when the assets, usually the family home, are sold.

In addition, the first €36,000 of any assets, €72,000 in the case of a couple, are not counted in the financial assessment. A maximum of 15pc of the value of the family home can be recouped from the elderly person after their death.

Care

What this means is that if the weekly cost of someone's nursing home care was €1,000, they had a weekly income of €300 and a home worth €300,000, they would have to contribute €240 per week from their income towards their nursing home care, while the State would be entitled to up to €39,600 when the house was eventually sold.

Application forms for the scheme can be downloaded from the HSE website www.hse.ie.

I am planning to fly to Spain to visit a family member before Christmas.

While I normally fly with Aer Lingus, the controversy surrounding its cost-cutting plans has me worried that there may be strikes at the airline. Should I go ahead and book my flights, or should I fly with Ryanair instead?

Yvonne

Last week, Aer Lingus announced swingeing cost cuts. These include both layoffs and pay cuts.

The Aer Lingus trade unions have come out against the cost-cutting proposals and have threatened industrial action.

How credible are these threats? With the company bleeding to death, strikes are the last thing Aer Lingus needs. Against that, the Aer Lingus trade unions are not averse to flexing their muscle, something which many passengers are all too familiar with.

If, by the time Yvonne books her flights, the row still hasn't been sorted out maybe she should think of flying with Ryanair instead.

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