THE chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, Tadhg Daly, has welcomed the decision to allow residents of long-term residential care facilities, including nursing homes, to receive two visits per week from March 22 on compassionate grounds.
This will be possible two weeks after full vaccination of approximately eight out of 10 residents and healthcare workers in homes.
There is also no requirement in the new guidelines to limit visits to less than one hour.
The Corkman welcomed the move. “This will give a lift to everyone. The news will be massively welcomed by residents, staff and their families. We are moving incrementally and moving safely in terms of personal visits. It is very welcome news, but we still need to be vigilant. Everyone still needs to remain cautious in terms of the initial phase of it.”
Mr Daly has appealed to all potential visitors to nursing homes to book their scheduled visits through the appropriate channels and to comply with their strict protocols.
“We will be appealing to visitors to remain vigilant when they call and continue to observe the public health measures. We can’t have large numbers calling at any time. We will be urging the people to work with the providers in terms of booking.
“We are disappointed they didn’t include antigen (testing) as part of these new measures. We were suggesting that any visitor that comes into nursing homes would undergo a rapid antigen test. The department officials didn’t go with our proposal, but we have asked them to keep this under review.”
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed in the Dáil yesterday the positivity rate in nursing homes nationally is now at 0.2%. Mr Daly said this statistic is a ‘testament to the great work’ of everyone.
“What we are reaping now is the hard work of staff and providers in tandem with the vaccination. The staff have gone above and beyond. The challenge now is to maintain the good work. The vaccination process has been hugely impactful. We will try to keep suppressing the virus in the community which will hopefully help us to ease the restrictions even further. It is all going in the right direction. The rollout has been very effective.
“We put a lot of pressure on the department to escalate it. There is a small bit of light at the end of the tunnel. There remains a responsibility on everybody not to drop their guard,” he added.
Mr Daly said the vast majority of employees and residents in all nursing homes have received the vaccination.
Meanwhile, he confirmed that the army, which assisted in a variety of roles in a few Cork nursing homes in recent months, has now concluded its relief mission. “The army finished their duty around February 18. They put their shoulder to the wheel and it was much appreciated,” he said.