Tom Barry TD is to ask Minister for Health James Reilly to revise the Nursing Home Support (Fair Deal) Scheme to correct what he believes is significant discrimination against farmers in the scheme’s conditions.
The Fair Deal Scheme allows that those needing Nursing Home care will contribute 80% of their income plus 5% of the value of their assets per annum. The first €36,000 per individual or €72,000 per couple of asset value is not counted. However, the ‘asset’ that is your principal residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first three years of the person’s time in care. This is known as the 15% or ‘three year’ cap.
The three year cap only applies to farmers (or businessess people) if three conditions are met. Firstly, the nursing home admission must be as a result of a sudden illness or disability; secondly, the person or their partner must have been engaged in the daily management of the farm at the time of admission and, thirdly, a family successor must certify that he or she will continue the management of the farm (or business).
“If you take a person with a house in a town valued at €200,000 and a similar person with a farm valued at €200,000; both of whom eventually require nursing home admission. They will both pay 80% of their income plus 5% of €164,000, or €8,200, per year for the first three years.
“After that, however, even though they both have exactly the same value in assets, the farmer or farmer’s wife will have to continue to pay €8,200 for every year they continue to require nursing home care – most often, for the rest of their lives.
“This represents a major imbalance in how we view and care for elderly people in our society. The majority of people do not enter a nursing home while they are still active in farm management or as a result of sudden illness and increasingly, sadly, there are many farms that are not passed down to the next generation. None of this should place a burden on elderly farmers that is not placed on any other member of society.
“We cannot view farms in the same way that we view a business. A farm is, in effect, a principal primary residence and should be treated as such, particularly when it comes to protecting the wellbeing and dignity of our older citizens.”