Nursing home residents will be able to retain all income from renting out their homes under plans being finalised by the Government, despite concerns previously being raised about the risks to older people.
It is understood that Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is planning to move ahead with the changes while introducing extra safeguards for older people whose homes are being rented out, and plans to seek Cabinet approval to do so early next month.
Under current regulations, those in nursing homes under the Fair Deal scheme must give up 40 per cent of the income from their home if it is placed on the private rental market, making a contribution towards their care. The scheme offers financial support to people who require long-term nursing home care, regardless of their financial circumstances.
Amid political controversy over the Coalition’s decision to lift the eviction ban in March, Mr O’Brien announced that 100 per cent of the rental income would be cleared for retention as part of a package of measures to combat vacancy.
However, his statement led to a backlash from his party colleague, Minister for Older People Mary Butler. Ms Butler said she was not consulted on the change and raised several concerns, saying she was “disappointed” with the move, warning it could lead to older people being placed into nursing homes prematurely.
A decision was delayed pending a review of the potential impact of the changes. That review was due to take place within three or four weeks, but has dragged on for months. The review is now thought to be nearing completion.
The Irish Times has learned that a deal was struck last week at the Cabinet sub-committee on housing that will involve extra safeguards being put in place to manage the risk of older people being forced into nursing homes.
It is understood that