The human cost of Covid-19: Ireland's care homes with the most deaths revealed

Of the 10 settings which saw the highest number of deaths, only one is a HSE-run facility

The Tara Winthrop Private Clinic, Swords has seen 29 deaths from Covid-19, according to the HSE.

The Tara Winthrop Private Clinic, Swords has seen 29 deaths from Covid-19, according to the HSE.

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Every night, as the chief medical officer Tony Holohan reads out the latest figures relating to Covid-19 in the State, there is a section dedicated to nursing homes.

Every day, the number of cases in nursing homes and residential institutions rises; the same for deaths in those settings. In the depths of late March and early April, as the virus ran through care homes and claimed hundreds of lives, the figures leapt up every night.

Beneath those numbers is a story that is only told by figures privately compiled by the Health Service Executive, and obtained by The Irish Times and illustrated in the table and map with this article. 

(If you are reading this on The Irish Times app, go here for a full breakdown of figures with a map and table. A number of homes have disputed the figures, go here for an update on this)

The figures show a breakdown of 1,030 deaths in 167 facilities caring for older people across the country, including community hospitals, long-stay units, residential institutions and nursing homes. They are up to date as of Tuesday of this week. They include those who died with both suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19. The final figures on deaths and confirmed cases are produced by the State’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

They show a national and global story, at local level in Ireland, as communities centred around nursing homes and other residential care facilities have faced the virus.

An analysis of the figures shows that of the 10 settings which saw the highest number of deaths, accounting for 240 of the total, only one is a HSE-run facility – St Mary’s Hospital care home in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, where the HSE figures show 25 people have died.

The skew towards deaths in private nursing homes is likely accounted for by the model of elder care provision in the State, which relies to a great extent on privately-run facilities, as well as a smaller figure from the voluntary sector. Combined, these two ownership classes account for a significant majority of nursing homes in the State. At least two homes run by either private sector organisations or voluntary groups are miscategorised in the data as HSE-run.

The three settings which saw the highest number of fatalities are all located either in Dublin or in its commuter belt.

Ryevale Nursing Home in Leixlip has had 35 deaths associated with it, the most in the country, according to the HSE figures. Tara Winthrop Private Clinic, in Swords, has seen 29 deaths, while there have been 28 deaths associated with the Marymount Care Centre in Lucan.

‘Devastated’

Asked for comment, a spokesman for the Tara Winthrop Private Clinic said it “does not discuss issues or statistics relating to staff or residents and their families in public. It communicates directly with its stakeholders”.

“Tara Winthrop has always and continues to deliver its service to the highest standards in accordance with the regulations.”

In a lengthy statement, Marymount Care Centre said it is “devastated at the loss of so many of our residents, including those whom we have cared for for many years, parents of close friends, and members of our local community that we ourselves have grown up with”. It said detailed infection control plans had been put in place since early March, including implementing visitor restrictions, limiting staff and resident movements and increased cleaning and PPE protocols, as well as temperature checks.

Ryevale Nursing Home did not respond to a request for comment.

The majority of nursing homes, which saw 10 or more deaths are concentrated either in Dublin, or within the commuter belt in counties like Wicklow, Meath and Kildare.

‘Inaccurate’

Several nursing homes disputed the accuracy of the figures, though the HSE figures are based on both laboratory-confirmed and suspected cases.

For example, the HSE figures show there have been 18 confirmed or suspected cases associated with Loughshinny Nursing Home in Dublin. However, Bartra Healthcare, which owns the nursing home, disputed this figure, saying there had been nine confirmed cases. It said it was “not aware” of any suspected cases associated with the facility.

The HSE figures show 23 deaths associated with Kiltipper Woods nursing home in Co Dublin, although when contacted for comment, the hospital said it was “inaccurate and false to present or infer that there have been 23 Covid-19 resident deaths in our centre”.

Phil D’Arcy, chief executive of the group which owns Drumbear Lodge in Monaghan, said the nursing home had seen deaths in the “low number of teens”, although the HSE figures suggest there are 20 associated with the care home.