Nursing homes issue SOS for staff as Covid outbreaks in Cork facilities cause crisis

Nursing homes issue SOS for staff as Covid outbreaks in Cork facilities cause crisis

Mr Daly said that serial testing at nursing homes across the country each week is picking up positive cases in asymptomatic people, putting further pressure on staff.

THE chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland has said there is a staffing crisis in the sector, with several Cork facilities affected by outbreaks of Covid-19.

Corkman Tadhg Daly said that there are currently an estimated 1,800 nursing home staff across the country out of work for reasons relating to Covid-19, while acute hospitals across the country are 7,000 staff members short.

“What we have seen is that existing staff are taking on extra shifts and not taking their days off and working extra hours to maintain the standard of care. The single biggest challenge now is staffing,” he said.

Dr John Sheehan, of Blackpool Bridge Surgery, said that he has received daily emails from the HSE in the last week “looking for nurses, healthcare workers and supports in different nursing homes around Cork and the army have been involved in providing supports in some nursing homes around Cork”.

He said that further appeals came from Cork University Hospital (CUH) on Friday for volunteers to help out in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) “because they were very short of staff

Mr Daly said that serial testing at nursing homes across the country each week is picking up positive cases in asymptomatic people, putting further pressure on staff.

He called for support in the form of people with qualifications, such as those who have left nursing or caring professions “who would be in a position to give something back”.

Tadhg Daly CEO Nursing Homes Ireland. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Tadhg Daly CEO Nursing Homes Ireland. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

“Obviously, they would have to receive Garda vetting and some training but volunteers could be involved in other roles too, such as catering or laundry,” he said.

Mr Daly also confirmed that there are currently 160 open outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes which equates to one-quarter of all nursing homes across the country.

Dr Sheehan added: “People are happy to volunteer and help each other in any way because different points of the system are going to have pressures at different times, nursing homes at the moment as well as ICU in hospitals, but as this rolls on other areas such as vaccinating may need staff so it’s really important that people would roll in, which they have been.”

Currently, there are 47 outbreaks in residential settings across Cork and Kerry, including nursing homes, community hospitals, disability centres, and mental health services. Most are in residential centres for older people — private nursing homes and community hospitals.

“I repeat our appeal for any healthcare staff, particularly nurses and healthcare assistants not currently involved in direct care of patients or residents and who are available, to contact me on MichaelM.Fitzgerald@hse.ie,” said Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Chief Officer Michael Fitzgerald.

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