Sage Advocacy believes this is the time for co-ordinated action and not the time for a “blame game” over why Covid-19 has yet again had such a devastating impact on nursing home residents resulting in 369 deaths in January alone.
According to the national organisation, which provides a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, what is needed is an immediate and urgent united response to halt the spread of the virus in nursing homes across the country.
Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said: “We have repeatedly warned that Covid-19 has exposed the inherent weaknesses in our systems of health and social care.
“We have consistently highlighted the systemic weaknesses in the State’s approach to outsourcing residential care of older adults to private providers and the dangerous architecture on which the current system of care in congregated settings for older people is built and this must change.
“But at this time the most important issue is to protect and support residents in nursing homes and to ensure that the bond between nursing home residents and their families can be rebuilt.
“We know through our advocacy work on the ground the heart-breaking impact of Covid-19 on nursing home residents and their families and we know how difficult it has been for nursing home staff and healthcare workers.
“For months nursing home residents and their families have had extremely limited contact, sometimes only via a window and we know of some nursing home providers who have even failed to facilitate this. Families have not had the opportunity to provide any comfort to their loved ones or in some instances not even been able to say goodbye in the way they would have wished to do so.
“We know through our Nursing Home Residents – Family Forum, which directly supports nursing home residents and their families, that a new blueprint must be drawn up immediately to ensure that safe, meaningful visits can facilitated between nursing home residents and their families and that communication must be at the heart of this plan.”
Sage Advocacy welcomed the meeting today (02/02/2021) by the Oireachtas Joint Health Committee which examined how nursing homes are coping with Covid-19 issues.
Ms Lennon said: “Families and nursing home residents are extremely anxious that the number of outbreaks in nursing homes has continued to rise rapidly.
We want to ensure that lessons have been learned from the first wave of Covid-19 particularly in relation to clinical oversight and outbreak management in nursing homes.
“We are also concerned about staff to resident ratios both from a safeguarding perspective and in order to maintain the dignity and wellbeing of all nursing home residents.
“It is vitally important that nursing home providers adhere to the evidence based recommendations set out in the Nursing Homes Expert Panel Report”.