Defence forces deployed to three nursing homes to ease staff pressure

Over 25 soldiers sent to facilities in Ballincollig and Douglas, Co Cork, and Ennis, Co Clare

Soldiers will be deployed daily over the coming weeks to assist nursing home staff with non-clinical general duties. Photograph: iStock

Soldiers will be deployed daily over the coming weeks to assist nursing home staff with non-clinical general duties. Photograph: iStock

 

The Defence Forces have been deployed to three nursing homes in recent days to help ease staffing pressures, following an appeal from the Health Service Executive.

A Defence Forces spokesman confirmed over 25 soldiers had been deployed to nursing homes in Ballincollig and Douglas, Co Cork, and Ennis, Co Clare.

“These soldiers, based in Collins Barracks Cork, will be deployed daily over the coming weeks to assist nursing home staff with non-clinical general duties,” he said.

On one previous occasion Defence Forces personnel had been deployed to help under-pressure nursing homes, it is understood at that time to assist with catering support.

Cahercalla Community Hospital in Ennis, Co Clare, is one of the nursing homes receiving support from the Defence Forces, following a recent outbreak. Army personnel will provide logistical support to the facility to free up healthcare staff to concentrate on clinical duties.

In a statement the hospital confirmed it had an outbreak of the virus. It said it was working closely with the Health Information Quality Authority, the HSE dedicated covid response team and other agencies to control the situation.

“We appreciate this is a difficult and concerning time for all staff, families, relatives and friends of residents. The Hospital has already informed families of the current situation and again we want to assure them that we are doing all in our power to protect and care for their loved ones,” the statement said.

“The management and staff are grateful for the encouragement and support we continue to receive from the families and friends of our residents. We thank them for their patience and support. Protecting their loved ones is our number one priority at Cahercalla.”

Speaking to the Irish Times on behalf of the hospital, Dr Michael Harty said 19 residents had tested positive, while “in excess” of 30 staff members were unable to work due to being covid positive, symptomatic but tested negative or due to being in isolation.

Dr Harty said several members of the Defence Forces were now assisting the hospital for a “combination of both” logistical support and for the completion of vaccination programme.

The Defence Force members will be assisting with keeping wards stocked with supplies, waste, and general maintenance so that staff can concentrate on the clinical needs of the patients, he said.

Dr Harty said that the vaccination programme had been brought forward from January 22nd to 9am this morning and will take place over two days.

Residents and staff who are Covid-negative will receive the jab this week, while those who are positive will receive their first dose in four weeks’ time, when the second dose is administered to the other residents.