Fintan O'Toole: A preventable tragedy is unfolding in care homes

It is not too late but the Government must act now to save care workers

The hospitals and ICUs have, in this crisis, a kind of dark glamour – they radiate a desperate heroism. But nursing homes don’t. The people who live in them and the carers who mind them are glimpsed only in society’s peripheral vision. Photograph: EPA

The hospitals and ICUs have, in this crisis, a kind of dark glamour – they radiate a desperate heroism. But nursing homes don’t. The people who live in them and the carers who mind them are glimpsed only in society’s peripheral vision. Photograph: EPA

This crisis is terrible for everybody. But within the big disaster is a very specific tragedy. It is unfolding quietly, mostly out of sight and little remarked. It affects, as always, people who are economically marginal and therefore invisible. But it is preventable and it is not too late to limit the damage it will do.

It needs an urgent and sustained concentration by Government on a very particular group of people: those who work in care homes and in residential institutions for people with disabilities. These people are, with good reason, feeling frightened and abandoned. Without a co-ordinated emergency response, very many of them will both contract Covid-19 and spread it to other vulnerable people.

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