The long-awaited changes to the nursing home Fair Deal scheme passed all stages of the Dáil and Seanad last week, overseen by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, she acknowledged that the changes were a long time coming.

“The purpose of the bill is to correct an anomaly that was there since 2009 and make it fair for farm families and small businesses,” she explains.

The soon-to-be previous Fair Deal nursing home scheme saw farm families and small business owners required to contribute 7.5% of the value of their land or asset annually to pay for the care of their loved ones in a nursing home.

This contribution will now be capped to a three-year period.

I’m delighted we got it done

However, there are still some amendments to be made.

“The last thing I want to happen is there to be any other unintended consequences but we will keep it under review and I’m delighted we got it done,” the minister said. “I am hoping that by the end of September people will be able to put a successor in place and that there will no longer be a deterrent for any person that wants to enter a nursing home.”

A 90-day time limit to enforce the legislation has been put into place once the President signs the bill which the minister expects to be next week. Minister Butler thanked farm organisations, other parties, the IFA and staff in the Department of Health for their hard work and commitment in getting the bill across the line.