Hundreds of people in long- stay community care who, up to now, contributed little or nothing towards their upkeep face first-time or hiked charges under a new contributions regime.
From January 1, approximately 1,700 service users in the disability and mental health sectors who live in non-nursing community settings funded by or on behalf of the HSE, will contribute a maximum of €70 a week towards living costs.
The Department of Health said the arrangement means approximately 1,100 people will contribute less per week than they currently pay, but the remaining 600 will have to pay the same or more.
According to the department, the standardised payment is an attempt to introduce “greater consistency and fairness” to a system where charges currently vary from one service-provider to another.
An additional €1.75m is being made available to support the new arrangements.
Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath said comprehensive waiver provisions would “ensure that contribution requirements are in line with what people can afford”. Waiver guidelines will be published by the HSE in October.
Mental Health Minister Helen McEntee said she believed the new framework would be “fairer across the board with all service users”.
The department said residents can be assured of retaining at least €118 of their weekly (disability payment) income for personal use after the €70 deduction is made.
Each service user will be contacted individually and will receive full details of the revised arrangements, as well as receiving an individual assessment over the coming months. Information leaflets for service users will be available from service providers and have also been published on the HSE’s website at www.hse.ie/longstaycontributions.
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