Sage Advocacy welcomes the final report from the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response and thanks the committee for its work.
The national charity, which provides a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, believes it is vitally important that lessons are learned from the State’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy: “We welcome the recommendation that a public inquiry should be established to investigate and report on all circumstances relating to each individual death from Covid-19 in nursing homes. We would hope that this will bring some comfort to families who lost loved ones.
“But with new outbreaks of Covid-19 cases being reported in nursing homes we cannot simply wait for an inquiry that could shed light on why some nursing homes were better equipped to deal with Covid-19 than others.
“We must ensure that protective public health and other infection protection and control measures are enforced in nursing homes throughout the country to safeguard residents and the staff who care for them.”
Sage Advocacy has urged that the essential recommendations set out in the Covid-19 Nursing Home Expert Panel Report are implemented immediately for example; ensuring that there is sufficient availability and appropriate use of PPE to long term care facilities and that all new residents coming from the community or proposed transfers from hospital are tested for COVID-19 prior to admission.
Ms Lennon added: “We also support frequent screening of residents for symptoms, and screening of staff prior to commencing a shift should be implemented to identify at-risk individuals.
“The first priority must always be to safeguard the health and well being of both residents and the staff who care for them.
“But nursing home residents and their families also need clear direction from the Government and senior health officials about what plan they have to enable families to stay connected despite the risk of Covid-19.
“A return to a blanket ban on all visits to nursing homes cannot be the answer this time – nursing home residents have a right to see their families and should have choice and control over contact with their families.”