Care in nursing homes should be prioritised in Level 5, says bishop

‘The lives of those who live in such facilities should be valued, respected, and enhanced’

‘We need to remind ourselves that every nursing care home resident is someone’s mother, father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend,’ said Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh Michael Router.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

‘We need to remind ourselves that every nursing care home resident is someone’s mother, father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend,’ said Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh Michael Router. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A Catholic bishop has called on the Government to prioritise care in nursing homes during this Level 5 phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was “hugely distressing” in the early phase of the pandemic “that so many vulnerable people died as a result of the spread of Covid-19 in nursing care homes,” said Michael Router, Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh.

“As we face a rise in coronavirus cases, we need to remind ourselves that every nursing care home resident is someone’s mother, father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend. They have played their part over many decades in contributing to their communities and to the economy,” he said.

“The lives of those who live in such facilities should be valued, respected and enhanced. Nursing homes should be prioritised by the State to ensure that they have the personnel and equipment necessary to deal with the current Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

He also encouraged “the management of nursing care homes and local clergy to continue to communicate about how best to look after the pastoral care of residents during this difficult time”.

‘Most vulnerable’

Bishop Router, who is chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Council for Healthcare, said that “our elderly parents, grandparents and relatives are amongst the most vulnerable during this pandemic”.

He encouraged people “to reach out to support and care for our elderly. As a group that can sometimes be neglected, they have borne the brunt of this pandemic’s wide-ranging effects.”

The latest restrictions were “distressing for them, especially as the autumn evenings close in and the days shorten,” he said. “Perhaps we could phone an elderly neighbour on a regular basis just for a short chat or to inquire if they needed something from the shops or the chemist,” he suggested.

He asked parishes “to make their elderly parishioners aware of a service called Senior Line,” the free phone confidential listening service for older people provided by trained older volunteers. “The number for the service is 1800-804591. The lines are open from 10am to 10pm, 365 days a year. It is important for us at this difficult time to be aware of the presence of those who are elderly or alone among us and to discreetly check in on them occasionally,” he said.

Bishop Router also acknowledged “the tremendous work of our doctors, nurses, administrators, chaplains and ancillary staff in healthcare facilities across the country” during the pandemic.

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