Mervyn Taylor, the executive director of Sage Advocacy, the support and advocacy service for older people, has warned that the nursing home sector will have to change following the Covid-19 crisis.
Nursing homes affected by Covid-19 clusters have jumped in number from 40 to 86 in just three days, a 51% jump.
Mr Taylor told Newstalk Breakfast that “fundamentally” there is a need to know how many nurses there are in the nursing home sector and he called on Hiqa to set minimum nursing staff levels and standards.
“There is no point of moral outrage if no one was going to follow up and make changes,” he said.
Quoting from a Nursing Homes Ireland survey which found that 37% of nursing homes had lost senior nursing staff, Mr Taylor said there was an immediate issue of access to nursing staff, rapid testing and access to PPE.
Mr Taylor paid tribute to staff in nursing homes who continue to care for patients who are very anxious. For some with dementia the sight of staff in full PPE gear can be a terrifying experience.
He said: “We see situations where there is not enough medical support for nurses or not enough nurses in nursing homes.”
Mr Taylor also pointed out that congregated settings extends beyond nursing homes, it also includes care homes for the handicapped.
He added: “There are 3,000 in religious orders who are now very old and living in congregated settings.
Between nursing homes and congregated settings and institutions there are 35,000 people, he said.
Mr Taylor said this all highlighted the need for a properly funded and supported agreement for nursing homes and greater efforts to keep people at home with the proper supports. The Fair Deal agreement should end with more focus on keeping people at home, he said.
- Useful information
- The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
- Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people – this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
- GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
- ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024