The Minister of State for Older People has said he hopes to introduce a three-year cap on contributions from farms and businesses to the Fair Deal scheme in January.

Families currently pay a 7.5% annual contribution on their principal residence for a maximum period of three years - but this does not currently apply to farmland or business premises.

Jim Daly said he hoped to introduce legislation on this and said he hoped provision to accommodate this change could be made in the forthcoming Budget.

He said he met with the Irish Farmers' Association last night and had had constructive engagement with them on the issue.

Mr Daly said the biggest thing he wanted to bring about in this area was certainty for families.

He said putting a loved one into a nursing home was a very sensitive and emotive time for families and he wanted to make sure that financial uncertainty did not lead to people making bad decisions for the well-being of their parents.

Mr Daly said by and large the Fair Deal scheme was very much fit for purpose with 23,600 residents availing of the scheme across the country.

He said a public consultation which is currently under way on home care services will close for submissions next Monday, 2 October.

The findings will be used in the development of the new home care scheme by the Government.

He said 2,300 submissions had been made to date and added that he had been looking at how similar schemes run in other countries including Canada.

Mr Daly said that since the introduction of the Fair Deal scheme in 2009, the average length of stay in a nursing home had reduced from seven years down to 2.2 years.

He said this was for a variety of reasons, but one of the reasons was people getting to stay for longer in their own homes.

However, he cautioned that introducing a home care services scheme could take a number of years.

€353 million is currently being spent by the Government on home help compared to €940m on the Fair Deal scheme.

He said reducing the numbers of people going into nursing homes would be a gradual process.