New measures to support nursing homes

COVID-19 testing will be prioritised for staff
  • Deborah Condon

New measures aimed at supporting nursing home residents and staff during the COVID-19 crisis have been announced by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

As part of these measures, staff are to be screened twice a day to ensure they are well. This will include having their temperature taken.

COVID-19 testing will also be prioritised for staff and the HSE will provide access to personal protective equiptment (PPE), training and expert advice.

Each nursing home will also identify a COVID-19 lead, while staff movement across residential facilities will be minimised. As part of this, the HSE "will support staff with alternative accommodation and transport if required", the Department of Health said.

According to Minister Harris, the nursing home sector cares for "one of the most precious and vulnerable groups in our society".

"We must do everything we can to support them to help break the transmission of the virus. To this end, we are extending supports to this sector so that they can continue their role in the overall public health response to COVID-19.

"Our goal, in these challenging times, is to protect our older people, wherever they are living. We must also support staff working in nursing homes, and ensure their safety and health as we continue to deal with this pandemic," he commented.

Meanwhile, the Minister also announced the introduction of a temporary COVID-19 financial support scheme for nursing homes. The aim of this is to provide "a temporary assistance payment to support private and voluntary nursing homes in managing any outbreak that occurs".

"The core concept of the scheme is that the State will provide additional funding to those nursing homes that require it. It is envisaged that the scheme will operate for a three-month period. It will be reviewed after the first month's operation," the department noted.

Responding to the annoucenment, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) said that these new measures "are an important step to support nursing homes to manage the unique challenges presented by COVID-19".

"We acknowledge the recognition by the State of the challenges faced by the sector. We thank Minister Harris for these measures in the evolving situation and acknowledge commitment by him to regular engagement with NHI and support for residents in nursing homes," commented NHI chief executive, Tadhg Daly.  

 


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