Dáil Éireann - Volume 532 - 07 March, 2001
Written Answers. - Private Nursing Homes.
Mr. Naughten Mr. Naughten
149. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the legal status of payments by medical card holders in private nursing homes under the nursing home and nursing home subvention legislation and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7171/01]
Mr. Naughten Mr. Naughten
150. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if health boards are obliged to provide physiotherapy and occupational therapy to residents of private nursing homes in line with the provision of such services in public geriatric hospitals and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7172/01]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 150 together.
The role of the health boards in relation to private nursing homes, as provided for in the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990, is twofold – first, to ensure high standards of accommodation in the homes and, second, to operate a subvention scheme towards the cost of nursing home care. Under the Nursing Homes Act, health boards are empowered to pay a subvention where a person has been assessed on the grounds of means and dependency. It is important to point out that, subject to a means test, a person will only be entitled to a subvention if they fulfil the dependency criteria laid down in the Subvention Regulations, 1993. The question of admission to a private nursing home is a matter between the patient and the owner of the nursing home.
Health board homes provide a range of ancillary services, such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy, etc., with a wider  range of staff employed. Articles 30(b) and 31 of the Nursing Home (Care and Welfare) Regulations state that the registered proprietor and the person in charge of the nursing home, shall ensure that when a person requires physiotherapy, occupational therapy or other health service, such service is made available by the registered proprietor or by arrangement with the health board. These services may be provided by a health board to a nursing home at the request of the registered proprietor or person in charge, upon such terms, charges and conditions and to such extent as the health board may determine, following discussion with the registered proprietor of the home. It is also open to a patient to make private arrangements for the provision of these services, if they so wish.
I would like to advise the Deputy that the amount of funding allocated to supporting people in private nursing homes has been significantly increased by this Government in recent years, from £23.8 million in 1998 to £33.1 million in 1999 and to £38.5 million in 2000. A further £14 million has been provided in 2001, bringing the total funding available to £52.5 million. It is the intention to increase the rate of subvention in respect of private nursing homes by 25% with effect from 1 April 2001.
Dáil Éireann 532 Written Answers. Private Nursing Homes.