Nursing home residents must pay an additional weekly fee of €100 on top of the Fair Deal payments

Thousands of private care home residents may remain liable for additional payments averaging around €100 a week as the state’s fair deal fees lag behind public facilities.

New figures released yesterday showed that the weekly cost of accommodating a resident in a private care home averages around €950, but care in an HSE-run facility may differ €1,242 or more than €2,000.

Although a private care home resident’s contribution to their care under the Fair Deal scheme is the same regardless of the weekly cost, the lower government subsidy to the sector means many will still have to pay out of pocket for “extras”. every week.

In a case recently investigated by the Ombudsman, a Fair Deal resident who was already contributing 80 percent of her income towards her care was charged an additional fee 7 a day or 212.91 per month for additional services such as dental care, general practitioners, optical physiotherapy and leisure services.

The Ombudsman said some services, such as general medicine and chaplaincy, were already covered by the care contract and he instructed that additional charges should not result in double being paid.

In another case, a nursing home provided a 50-a-month laundry fee.

The home said it does not charge for organized activities not covered by Fair Deal and offered a 2,000 refund. However, the Ombudsman requested a full refund of 3,500.

Many nursing homes insist that the additional fees are required for services not covered by the Fair Deal program, such as social activities, incontinent clothing, and therapy, and they have no choice but to charge additional fees.

Nursing Homes Ireland has accused the HSE of paying itself more for fair deal residents in public facilities, while private operators have to make an arrangement with the National Treatment Purchase Fund, potentially making them unprofitable.

The HSE said yesterday that in public care homes the average cost of care will increase slightly from €1,674 per week in 2021 to €1,698 in 2022.

“This 1.4 per cent increase will be influenced by pay increases under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which will come from the HSE pay budget rather than the pay budget 1 billion fair deal allocation.

A spokeswoman said: “These costs relate to the running costs of the care in these centres. They do not relate to the amount a person pays for their care under Fair Deal.

“It is recognized that there are differences in the cost of care in both public care institutions and private care homes, with public care homes generally having higher care costs.

“(There has been) a reduction in the number of long-stay public beds to comply with health and safety regulations, fire safety regulations and Hiqa’s compliance with residential care standards, while fixed costs such as lighting, heating and maintenance costs have increased. Public nursing homes generally have a higher staffing ratio for nurses than private nursing homes.”

Junior Minister for the Elderly Mary Butler said although Fair Deal covers basic living expenses, residents may incur some expenses such as welfare programs, newspapers and hairdressing.

She said residents should never be charged fees not specified in the agreed-upon contract when a person enters a home.

An operator should never require additional payment from residents for items covered by the Fair Deal program, health card or any other existing scheme. “The Department of Health and the HSE are not parties to any such contracts that are made between the resident and the care home,” she added.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has issued consumer protection guidelines for care contracts in care homes, covering top-up charges.

The latest weekly care cost figures show regional disparities, with private care homes in Dublin, Wicklow, Cavan and Kildare below counties 1,000 on average. By contrast, care homes in Galway, Offaly, Mayo, Tipperary and Donegal have weekly costs of 950 Nursing home residents must pay an additional weekly fee of €100 on top of the Fair Deal payments

Fry Electronics Team

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