State policy is that elderly and infirm people should be catered for, in so far as possible, in the comfort and security of their own homes. At present, if this is not an option, and additional support is needed, two options are available: the state, or the family, provides support in the home or in a nursing home.
My bill will open up the option for the HSE to provide home help care to patients as long as the total cost is less than what it would cost to provide nursing home care. This is a sensible proposal, and one which deputies from all parties and none have agreed with.
We owe it to our older people not only to find the best way of supporting them in their old age, but to make sure that this support is delivered in the way that allows people the maximum dignity, comfort and security. That means that elderly and infirm people should, where it is humanly possible, be catered for in the comfort and security of their own homes.
The Fair Deal scheme was developed by the last Fianna Fáil government to ensure that payment up front was not needed to ensure that an older people received appropriate care in a nursing home.
All the evidence from specialists in geriatric medicine shows that, in general, we see better outcomes for older people when they are cared for, and supported, to live in their own homes.
Financial barriers should not be used to force older people out of their homes, and into nursing homes, if not necessary.
On average, it costs three times as much to care for someone in a nursing home than in their own home. So it makes perfect sense, for the State, to ensure that older people can stay in their home.
The solution is simple. Maintain the same health criteria but change the financial contribution criteria to reflect the different circumstances of keeping an older person in their home with appropriate care support.
I am delighted that my has received cross-party support, and that it will move to Committee Stage as quickly as possible. We owe it to our older people to find a better way of supporting them.