01 Oct 2022

Families concerned over rising Covid-19 cases in nursing homes

The rise is affecting visiting arrangements in some nursing homes

Families concerned over rising Covid-19 cases in nursing homes

Families concerned over rising Covid-19 cases in nursing homes

Nursing home residents and their families have told Sage Advocacy that they are growing increasingly concerned about the rise in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in nursing homes and the impact this is having on visiting arrangements.

Members of Sage Advocacy’s Nursing Home Residents - Family Forum – have told the national charity, which provides a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, that some nursing home providers are not adhering to the current HSE guidelines and have introduced new restrictions.

Sarah Lennon, Executive Director, Sage Advocacy said: “We are aware from our advocacy work and through members of our Forum that some nursing home providers have introduced certain visiting restrictions - without confirming a Covid-19 outbreak in a facility and without providing a risk assessment to nursing home residents and their families.

“We have also been informed that some nursing home providers who are experiencing a confirmed Covid-19 outbreak have reverted to window-only visiting and are only permitting residents to speak through a closed window to family

“Nursing home residents and their families have repeatedly told us that they are frustrated by the lack of clear communication from some nursing home providers around the issue of visiting and also in relation to residents’ outings from a nursing

“Sage Advocacy believes it is vitally important, following the experiences of Covid-19 in nursing homes in the last 12 months, that nursing home providers now focus on the right of residents – particularly their right to see or refuse visitors and their right to maintain meaningful relationships with people who are important to them”.

The national charity has contacted the Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD, to ask her to issue a further direction to nursing home providers and urge them to restore the right to visiting, in line with public health guidance, as completely and quickly as is practically possible in the context of the assessed level of risk at the time.

Sarah Lennon said: “Nursing home residents and their families have made enormous sacrifices throughout the pandemic, and for a very long period of time had very limited or no contact at all with their loved ones.

“We need to learn from our experiences during the worst days of the pandemic, particularly in relation to nursing home residents and how we can better support residents and their loved ones in the future.

“That’s why today Sage Advocacy is calling on the Government to waste no more time in establishing the Commission on Care for older people and enable it to urgently start examining care and supports for older people in Ireland. The Government pledged to set up the Commission in the Programme for Government nearly 14 months ago – as a country we cannot wait any longer for action on this”.

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