Nursing Homes Ireland complains about lack of support

Gap between that pledged and the reality regarding protective equipment and testing

Supports promised for nursing homes by Minister for Health Simon Harris to tackle coronavirus have not materialised to the level expected, Nursing Homes Ireland has said.

Chief executive of the representative body Tadhg Daly said there is a gap between what was promised and the reality on the ground concerning personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for staff.

Mr Harris announced a €72 million support package for nursing homes last week including twice-daily staff screening and priority testing in an effort to stem coronavirus outbreaks.

“The reprioritisation that we received from the Minister last week was very welcome, but it hasn’t materialised to the level that we would expect. The point we would make is that every day counts now and there is a gap between what was promised and the reality on the ground in two areas,” Mr Daly told RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke show on Wednesday.


“One is the area of PPE. We accept fully that it is a logistical challenge but given the numbers now in nursing homes and given what we’ve been saying in Nursing Homes Ireland we do need that commitment delivered on.

“The other area is testing. Our members are crying out for staff and we have staff sitting at home in isolation awaiting tests or awaiting test results. Those are two critical issues and if those were resolved the nursing home sector is well capable of dealing with this particular pandemic.”

Mr Daly said the Minister’s commitment to reprioritise healthcare workers had to be delivered. “If it’s not, then I am fearful that the staff that we employ, and that’s in nursing homes right across the health service, won’t be there in the numbers when an even greater surge that’s expected hits the wider health service.”

‘Numbers are rising’

Mr Daly said the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre that there are 86 clusters of coronavirus in nursing homes as of midnight on Sunday is “very concerning”.

“The numbers are rising but we’ve known from the outset that Covid was always going to attack the weakest. But I suppose what we’re confident of is with the right supports given the dedicated and professional staff in the nursing home sector, we’re well able to cope with this,” he added.

“I think we need to be conscious here that a cluster is two or more but also the nursing home sector has stepped up. The majority of people with Covid at this point in time are being cared for and being cared for very well I would suggest in the nursing home sector.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times