Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach says proposals put forward by his party will allow older people to continue living active lives in their own community as they age.

Deputy Breathnach made the comments as the ‘Nursing Home Support Scheme (Amendment Bill) 2016’ was debated at Second Stage in the Dáil. If enacted, the Bill will open up the option for the HSE to provide home help care to patients under the Fair Deal scheme.

Deputy Breathnach said, “Currently the Fair Deal scheme can only be used by people who are entering a nursing home setting. The scheme has been generally successful to date and has allowed older people to receive nursing home care without prohibitive financial costs.

“However there are many older people who would like to continue living in their own homes as they age. They want to remain active in their communities and don’t want to have to enter a nursing home if their health declines. Many of these people only require a few hours’ home help each day to allow them to continue living active and fulfilling lives. They do not necessary need 24 / 7 care as is provided in a nursing home setting.

“The Bill we have put forward will open up the Fair Deal scheme for people who want to remain living in their own homes. 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. This Bill will help realise this policy. Fianna Fáil’s 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.

“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.

“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.

“This is a sensible proposal, and one which, I feel, should be looked upon favourably.”