Fair Deal amendment will protect farmers and business owners says Senator

An amendment to the Nursing Home Support Scheme to enhance protections for farmers and business owners has been welcomed by Senator Fiona O’Loughlin.

“The amendment will place a cap at three years on the financial contributions of family owned and operated farms or businesses when calculating the cost for nursing home This will occur where a family successor commits to working the farm or business,” said Senator O’Loughlin.

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, commonly known as Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for those in need of long-term nursing home care. The Scheme aims to ensure that care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.

Under Fair Deal, residents make contributions to their care based on a financial assessment of their income and assets. In this assessment, the capital value of an individual’s principal private residence is only included for the first 3 years of a resident’s time in care. This is known as the three-year cap.

“The Nursing Homes Support Scheme has been in operation for over 10 years and there is broad agreement that the Scheme operates well and continues to provide appropriate financial assistance where it is required,” she added

“However, the Government recognises that currently the three-year cap on the financial assessment of a person’s income and assets applies to family farms or businesses only in the case of sudden illness or disability. This situation may place unnecessary financial pressures on these families and could challenge the future viability of the farm or business. 

“The Bill brought to Cabinet this week, delivers on the Programme for Government commitment to address this issue by introducing additional safeguards to the scheme to promote and protect the sustainability of family farms and businesses that will be passed down to the next generation.”

Minister Butler said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the vulnerabilities of many older people, especially those living in long-term residential care. It is absolutely critical that public investment in long-term care services is maintained for those who need it. Care must remain accessible and affordable, including for those families with a farm or a business.