Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry has called on the Government to examine the possibility of relaxing the means-test for Carer’s Allowance.

Deputy Mac Sharry claims that if the mean test was relaxed, and other supports such as the medical card, home help hours and housing adaption supports were allocated, it would allow more older people to stay at home and be cared for, and it would be much more cost effective for the State.

“Fewer than 5% of older people require care late on in life, and I feel that it is extremely important that when they do, every effort should be made to facilitate this care in the comfort and security of their own homes. Funding to allow older people stay at home provides not only the best value for money, but is also the option that most older people and their families would choose.

“The State is paying out an out an average of €1,000 per week in fair deal costs or €1,000 per day for an acute bed. These costs could be vastly reduced if proper supports were put in place to allow people be cared for at home.

“Last week I questioned the Secretary General of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection at the Public Accounts Committee, on whether any research had been conducted on the potential benefit of loosening or relaxing the means test for the Carer’s Allowance, which, together with the provision of a medical card, some home help hours and perhaps a housing adaptation grant, might help to afford people the dignity of staying at home. Remarkably he admitted that the matter had never been investigated.

“I am calling on the Minister of Health, the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection, and the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform to come together and explore the possibility of coming up with a package of supports to allow older people to be cared for at home”.