Navigating the Fair Deal Scheme: Essential Information for Families

Olivia Rhye
December 27, 2023
8 mins

The journey into elder care is often filled with emotional and financial challenges, particularly when long-term nursing home care becomes necessary. Ireland's Fair Deal Scheme is a significant support system designed to make this journey manageable and dignified. This blog post aims to demystify the process and outline what families need to know to navigate this essential healthcare support effectively.

Understanding the Fair Deal Scheme

The Nursing Home Support Scheme, commonly known as the Fair Deal Scheme, is a government initiative in Ireland aimed at providing financial support to individuals who need long-term nursing home care. It ensures that care is affordable and accessible, basing contributions on a person's income and assets so that no one is excluded from receiving the care they need due to financial constraints.

Eligibility and Application for the Fair Deal Scheme

Understanding the eligibility criteria and application process for Ireland's Fair Deal Scheme is crucial for families and individuals considering long-term nursing home care. Here's a detailed look at what you need to know:


The Fair Deal Scheme is inclusive, ensuring that anyone who is ordinarily resident in Ireland and assessed as needing long-term nursing home care can apply. The scheme does not discriminate based on age, income, or medical diagnosis. Instead, the primary focus is on the necessity for care. Whether you're an older adult, someone with a chronic illness, or a person with significant disabilities, if you require long-term care in a nursing home setting, the Fair Deal is designed to support you.

Application Process:

Navigating the application process involves several key steps:

  1. Care Needs Assessment: A healthcare professional conducts an assessment to determine your need for long-term nursing care. This assessment is comprehensive, covering physical, mental, and daily living needs. It's the first step in understanding what level of care you or your loved one requires.
  2. Financial Assessment: This assessment calculates how much you will contribute towards your care costs. It considers your income (like pensions, wages, and benefits) and assets (such as savings, investments, and property). The aim is to ensure that you contribute a fair amount based on your means while the state supports the remaining cost of care. It's important to note that there is a cap on contributions from the family home for the first three years of care, known as the 'three-year cap', after which the home is no longer considered in the asset assessment.
  3. Support Plan: Once you're deemed eligible, a support plan is created. This plan outlines the financial support you'll receive from the state, covering the difference between your contribution and the actual cost of care. The support plan ensures that you can access the necessary nursing home care without the full burden of costs falling on you or your family.

The Fair Deal Scheme is an essential support system for individuals in Ireland requiring long-term nursing home care. By ensuring you're well-informed about the eligibility criteria and application process, you can take the necessary steps to access the care you or your loved one needs. Remember, the aim is to provide accessible and manageable care for all, ensuring dignity and support throughout the journey of long-term care.

Financial Contributions Explained

The Fair Deal Scheme is designed to make nursing home care more accessible and affordable for those in need. Here's a breakdown of the financial commitments involved:

  1. Income Contribution: Individuals are required to contribute 80% of their assessable income towards their care. This includes any pensions, earnings, social welfare benefits, or other income.
  2. Asset Contribution: Additionally, 7.5% of the value of any assets per annum is contributed. Notably, a cap is placed on the family home, where it's only considered for the first three years of one's stay in care - this is often referred to as the 'three-year cap'.
  3. State Support: The state then covers the rest of the cost, filling the gap between personal contributions and the actual cost of care. This ensures that nursing home care is both accessible and sustainable for individuals, regardless of their financial situation.

It's important to understand that the Fair Deal is effectively a loan from the state when it comes to asset contributions. These are typically recouped from the person's estate after death, particularly in the case of the family home or other assets.

Example Calculation:

Suppose an elderly person has an annual pension income of €24,000 and assets worth €300,000, including their family home valued at €250,000.

Income Contribution: €24,000 * 80% = €19,200 annually, which is €1,600 monthly.

Asset Contribution:First 3 years (including home): €300,000 * 7.5% = €22,500 annually, which is €1,875 monthly.

After 3 years (excluding home as it's capped): Assume remaining assets are €50,000, so €50,000 * 7.5% = €3,750 annually, which is €312.50 monthly.So, initially, the individual would contribute a total of around €3,475 per month (€1,600 from income and €1,875 from assets).

After three years, once the family home cap applies, the total monthly contribution would decrease to around €1,912.50 (€1,600 from income and €312.50 from assets).

Important Notes:

Cost of Care: The actual cost of care can vary significantly between nursing homes and locations. The Fair Deal Scheme doesn't cover additional costs like extra services or higher standards of accommodation, which might need to be paid out of pocket.

Financial Assessment: It's important to undergo a financial assessment to understand the specific contribution required. Variables like joint assets, rental income, or other financial factors can affect the calculation.

Professional Advice: Given the complexity and personal impact of these financial decisions, seeking advice from a financial advisor or elder care specialist is highly recommended to ensure a clear understanding of the implications and responsibilities under the Fair Deal Scheme.

Choosing the Right Nursing Home Under the Fair Deal Scheme

When it comes to selecting a nursing home for yourself or a loved one under Ireland's Fair Deal Scheme, making an informed decision is crucial. It's not just about finding a place with availability; it's about finding a home where you or your loved one will receive quality care, feel comfortable, and have access to necessary services. Here's what you need to consider:

Quality of Care

Quality of care is paramount. When researching nursing homes, consider the staff's qualifications, the ratio of staff to residents, and the overall satisfaction of current residents. Look for homes with a strong reputation for quality care and read through any available inspection reports or testimonials. Grandpal’s Directory of Nursing Homes in Ireland provides a comprehensive list of nursing homes, allowing you to research and compare different facilities easily.


The location of the nursing home is essential for family and friends who will want to visit. Consider homes that are easily accessible and within a reasonable distance from loved ones. Being close to family and friends can significantly benefit the emotional well-being of the resident, ensuring regular visits and ongoing support.

Specialized Services

Depending on the individual's health needs, you might require a nursing home that offers specialized services. Whether it's dementia care, physical therapy, or stroke rehabilitation, ensure the facility can cater to these needs. Adequate medical support and tailored care plans are vital for the health and comfort of the resident.

Utilizing Resources for an Informed Decision

Making the right choice involves gathering as much information as possible. Here are two valuable resources to help you in your decision-making process:

  1. Grandpal's Directory of Nursing Homes in Ireland: Visit here to explore a wide range of nursing homes across Ireland. This directory allows you to filter your search based on various criteria, including location, care needs, and more.
  2. Nursing Home Cost Calculator: Understanding the financial aspect of nursing home care is vital. Use Grandpal's Nursing Home Cost Calculator to get an estimated monthly cost for nursing home care. This tool can help you plan financially and consider the implications of the Fair Deal Scheme on your budget.

Choosing the right nursing home is a significant decision that can impact the quality of life and well-being of the individual requiring care. By considering the quality of care, location, and specialized services, and utilizing resources like Grandpal's directory and cost calculator, you can make an informed and confident decision. Remember, the Fair Deal Scheme is there to support you financially, but the choice of nursing home will determine the day-to-day experience of the resident, so choose wisely.

Mary's Journey with the Fair Deal Scheme: Mary, an 82-year-old widow, moved into a nursing home after her mobility decreased significantly. Her family applied for the Fair Deal Scheme, which significantly reduced the financial burden. While the application process was daunting initially, the financial relief provided allowed Mary to choose a nursing home close to her family, ensuring she received the care and companionship needed.

Pros and Cons of the Fair Deal Scheme

Like any comprehensive support system, the Fair Deal Scheme comes with its set of advantages and drawbacks.


  1. Accessibility of Care: The scheme makes residential care accessible to a wider population who might otherwise struggle with the high costs of nursing home care.
  2. Financial Predictability: Individuals and families can better plan for the cost of care, knowing there's a cap on contributions and understanding exactly what percentage of income and assets will be required.
  3. Quality of Care: With the financial aspects managed, individuals can focus on selecting a nursing home that offers quality care suited to their needs, rather than being limited by affordability.


  1. Processing Delays: The application process can be lengthy and complex, sometimes leading to stressful delays in securing a place in a nursing home.
  2. Impact on Inheritance: Since a significant portion of an individual's assets can be earmarked for care costs, there might be concerns about the impact on inheritance for next of kin.
  3. Complexity and Need for Advice: Navigating the ins and outs of the Fair Deal Scheme can be complicated, often requiring professional financial and legal advice to understand the implications fully.

While the Fair Deal Scheme provides essential support for individuals needing long-term nursing home care, it's crucial for potential applicants and their families to fully understand the financial implications and consider both the benefits and the potential drawbacks. Consulting with professional advisors and thoroughly researching the scheme are advisable steps to ensure a well-informed decision is made.

John's Transition to Nursing Care: After a stroke, John needed specialized care. His son navigated the Fair Deal Scheme to find a suitable nursing home that catered to John's rehabilitation needs. The process involved understanding John's financial situation and choosing the right care facility that specialized in stroke recovery. The scheme allowed John to focus on his health without worrying about the financial implications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long does the application process take? Typically, the application process can take several weeks to months, depending on individual circumstances and the completeness of the application.
  2. What types of care are covered under the scheme? The Fair Deal covers various levels of long-term nursing home care, including standard residential care, dementia care, and certain rehabilitative services.
  3. Can I choose any nursing home? You can choose from any nursing home that participates in the scheme and meets your care needs, subject to availability.
  4. What happens if my financial situation changes? You are required to inform the scheme administrators of any significant changes in your financial situation, which may lead to an adjustment in contributions.
  5. How are disputes or reassessments handled? Disputes or concerns about assessments can be directed to the Health Service Executive, which has procedures in place for handling such matters, including appeals.


The Fair Deal Scheme is a vital component of Ireland's healthcare system, providing much-needed support for individuals requiring long-term nursing care. Understanding how it works, its benefits, and the responsibilities it entails can significantly ease the burden on families, ensuring that their loved ones receive the care and dignity they deserve in their later years.

Resources and Further Reading

For comprehensive guidance and application details:

For personalized advice and planning:

  • Financial advisors specializing in elder care.
  • Legal experts for estate planning.

In navigating the Fair Deal Scheme, knowledge is not just power – it's peace of mind. Armed with the right information, families can make informed decisions, ensuring their loved ones are cared for in the best possible manner.

HSE Nursing Homes Support Offices

Your Nursing Homes Support Office is available to help you fill in the form or answer questions about your application. When you have completed this form, send it to the Nursing Homes Support Office for your area:

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Community Services, James’s Green, Kilkenny. Tel: 056 7784761 & 056 7784633

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Lisdarn, Cavan. Tel: 049 4373155/112/191

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Floor 1, Áras Sláinte, Wilton Road, Cork. Tel: 021 4923536/37/38/39/40/41/42

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Navenny House, Navenny Street, Ballybofey. Tel: 074 9189172

Dublin South, Wicklow and Kildare
HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Oak House, Millennium Park,Naas, Co Kildare. Tel: 045 880400

Dublin North City and County
HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Civic Office, Main Street, Ballymun, Dublin 9. Tel: 01 8467148

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Community Services, Lá Nua, Ballybane Neighbourhood Village, Castlepark Road, Ballybane, Galway. Tel: 091 748485

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Health Centre, Arden Road, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Tel: 057 9359625

Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary
HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, St Joseph’s Hospital, Mulgrave Street, Limerick. Tel: 061 461499

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Health Centre, Longford Road, Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Tel: 044 9394995

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Unit 3 Ardee Business Park, Hale Street, Ardee. Tel: 041 6871515/529/525

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, St Mary’s Headquarters,Castlebar. Tel: 094 9049176

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Government Buildings, Convent Road, Roscommon. Tel: 090 6637561/546

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Markievicz House, Barrack Street, Sligo. Tel: 071 9155193

Tipperary South
HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Community Care Centre, Western Road, Clonmel. Tel: 052 6177283

Waterford HSE
Nursing Homes Support Office, Waterford Community, Services, Cork Road, Waterford. Tel: 051 842963

HSE Nursing Homes Support Office, Wexford Community Services,Georges Street, Wexford. Tel: 053 9185715/716

Information is also available from the HSE infoline on 1850 24 1850, Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm

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Olivia Rhye
December 27, 2023
8 mins

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