There has been a small but concerning rise in COVID cases in Ireland nursing homes, according to Nursing Homes Ireland.
The group issued the warning as it raised “significant concerns” about the lack Government funding available to implement the reforms recommended by the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel.
The panel was established last May as it emerged that more than half the country’s COVID-19 deaths were associated with nursing home residents.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Nursing Homes Ireland CEO Tadhg Daly said nursing homes are “very concerned” at the slow pace of reform since the report was published.
“I suppose our concern at this point in time is that the focus has shifted from the sector and the momentum that was there last year has not been advanced to ensure we can, I suppose, learn the lessons from COVID,” he said.
He said there are three main areas of concern – integration, the workforce and resourcing.
“In terms of resourcing, we have significant concerns,” he said.
There was a scheme in place called TAPS; the Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme. That was ceased, would you believe, at the end of June of this year and no further resources have been put into place.
“So, there are significant resource implications with the implementation of the recommendations and we do need that to be addressed.”
He said the nursing homes' workforce has been “nothing short of phenomenal” through the pandemic – but warned that there are still issues with pay and training.
Meanwhile, in terms of integration, he said access to a whole range of primary care services for nursing home residents remains inconsistent.
“So, we would say there is a requirement for Government to redouble their efforts and to engage with ourselves and others to ensure those recommendations don’t just sit in a report,” he said.
“That they are actually implemented and resourced.”
He said nursing homes are concerned about the small increase in COVID cases in recent weeks.
“We are concerned at this point in time that we are seeing outbreaks of cases in both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff and residents so that is something we need to keep a very close eye on,” he said.
He noted that NHI is engaging with Government on the prospect of booster vaccines – and called for them to be rolled out as quickly as possible if they are approved by NIAC (the National Immunisation Advisory Committee).
“We need to ensure that we take all appropriate measures now as we face into a winter where we are not sure what is facing us all,” he said.
“There shouldn’t be any delay. If we have vaccine in the country and if NIAC recommends that either the timing of the dose or the particular dose to be administered then we would expect it to be expedited without any delay and we would be concerned with any notion of waiting until October."
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