Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD has today (Tuesday) announced an extension to the COVID-19 Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme.
Over 30,000 of our citizens live in nursing homes. Residents of nursing homes are vulnerable because of their age, underlying medical conditions and often as a result of care needs involving close physical contact. This care and support is provided by dedicated staff across the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging and impactful on those who live in nursing homes, their families and all of those staff that provide these vital services, and we must therefore continue to provide focused and practical support to the services.
The Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme was established as a temporary support mechanism to contribute towards costs associated with COVID-19 in nursing homes. The Scheme provides support payments to applicant nursing homes for April, May and June. The Scheme was due to close today but an extension to include further supports for July, August and September has been agreed.
This is a significant contribution to supporting the sector in its ongoing preparedness in managing and mitigating the impacts of COVID-19, and, importantly, supporting and protecting residents. The extension of the Scheme allows these preparedness and management measures to continue to roll out and also provides certainty as to the conclusion of this temporary Scheme.
Additionally, significant systems and structures to facilitate the support of private and voluntary nursing homes have been put in place by the HSE and HIQA and have developed considerably over the past number of months. These non-financial supports come in the form of the supply of PPE, temporary accommodation for nursing home staff and through the HSE’s Crisis Response Teams including deployment of HSE staff. There is also considerable amount of support in the form of telephone support, infection prevention and control support and Public Health support provided to nursing homes.
The extension of the Scheme also recognises all of these other supports and the extended Scheme will operate with some amendments including in relation to PPE, the monthly support caps and changes to the application process aimed at reducing administrative processes.
Speaking today, Minister Donnelly said:
"While great strides have been made in the response to COVID-19, including further suppression of the virus in the community, I believe we must continue to provide support to nursing homes and contribute towards their continued planning, preparedness and response to COVID-19. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that I am extending the Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme (TAPS) for 3 months, until the end of September.
“This support, along with the broader package of supports provided by the State and its agencies to private and voluntary nursing homes aim to further contribute towards the range of public health measures required to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
The core concept of the scheme is that the State will provide additional funding to those nursing homes that require it, to contribute towards costs associated with COVID-19 preparedness, mitigation and outbreak management. The scheme was due to close today, 30th June but an extension to the Scheme has been agreed. The Scheme will now conclude at the end of September.
There are two component parts of the Scheme which are integrated:
a support payment per month based on the number of residents
enhanced assistance in the event of a nursing home actively managing an outbreak
Under the standard support component, funding may be provided to each applicant nursing home as a contribution towards COVID-19 related measures and associated expected costs for the month. The maximum level of financial support under the Scheme is calculated by reference to the number of residents in the nursing home over a specified time, based on bed nights.
The payment caps under the extended Scheme (July, August and September) are calculated as follows:
€600 per resident per month for the first 40 residents
€300 per resident per month for the next 40 residents
€150 per resident per month for each subsequent resident
The Outbreak assistance payment component of the Scheme also continues under the Scheme extension.
There is an overall monthly funding cap, which is the maximum amount that may be paid in respect of each month to a Nursing Home under the extended Scheme. This amount applies to the aggregate of payments under the Standard Assistance Payment and the Outbreak Assistance Payment.
It is equal to the lower of:
twice the Standard Assistance Payment Cap for the month
the amount of €60,000
The HSE is continuing to provide significant supplies of PPE to nursing homes. The HSE will continue to provide PPE to nursing homes, and to ensure value for money, the Scheme no longer covers this cost.
The Scheme administration is also being simplified with the removal of the Form A process. This process served an important purpose at the commencement of the Scheme to ensure the early flow of funding support. However, it has served its primary purpose and now may be counterproductive to good administration and user friendliness so is being discontinued for the extended months of the Scheme.
The extended Scheme will also require nursing homes to provide a copy of their preparedness and any compliance plans in place with HIQA and require applicants to provide a final report on expenditure and its utilisation, in the final month of the Scheme in September.