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‘On Call for Ireland’ a triumph of national solidarity - Need to use new resources across all sectors to protect the most vulnerable March 29, 2020


‘That 60,000 people answered Ireland’s call and signed up to support the health services in the face of the biggest public health emergency since 1918 is a triumph of solidarity’ according to Sage Advocacy.  Executive Director, Mervyn Taylor, described the HSE’s ‘On Call for Ireland’ as a great national resource but he said that people signing up for it needed to be used wherever the need is greatest.  ‘This includes not only acute hospitals but also congregated settings such as nursing homes as well as in people’s homes’.

‘The reports we are getting from our staff and our network of volunteers and supporters around the country is that, with a few exceptions, most people who should not be in acute hospitals have either been transferred to nursing homes, or have returned to their own homes with support.  However, we are concerned that the necessary level of nursing staff in nursing homes to deal with outbreaks of Covid-19 may not be sufficient.  We are also seeing shortfalls in home care arising from increased hospital discharges to the community and the closure of day centres, reports of home support services being withdrawn in worrying situations, as well as home supports being refused by older people for fear of becoming infected with Covid-19’ Mervyn Taylor said.

Identifying a need for maximum flexibility and the best use of available health and social care resources, Mervyn Taylor asked that the healthcare needs of residents in nursing homes, many of whom are extremely vulnerable, be given as much consideration as the needs of people in acute hospitals.  ‘There is an impression out there that because they are called nursing homes they are largely staffed with nurses.  This is not the case’ he said.  ‘There is an urgent need to look at the levels of nursing staff with relevant skills to help nursing homes meet the challenges of this public health emergency.  The consequences of understaffed nursing homes facing outbreaks of Covid-19 are grave’ he said.

‘We now have a great national resource through ‘On Call for Ireland’.  Let’s use it to focus on wherever the needs are regardless of whether or not the current provider is public, private of voluntary’ Mervyn Taylor concluded.

 For more information contact:

Mervyn Taylor.  Executive Director. 086 8227998

26th March 2020

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