The chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland has said that there are “a significant number” of Covid outbreaks in nursing homes across the country.
Corkman Tadhg Daly said that there are over 320 nursing homes with an outbreak — about 60% of all nursing homes in the country —which he said is “concerning”.
He added, however, that this is counterbalanced by the good news that residents are not as sick and the vast majority are presenting with a bad cold or a common cold.
“The vaccine is obviously working but vigilance is still required and obviously the impact it has on residents — if they do get Covid they have to isolate.”
He said that while it is “a much better picture” than previous waves, it is still concerning. “In terms of the impact on mortality, thankfully it’s nowhere near the previous wave. One of the concerns is that public health are suggesting that we still haven’t reached the peak in terms of the virus and you have to look around, there’s a very high incidence in the community and ultimately when those types of numbers are in the community at large then it does have a direct impact on all healthcare settings including nursing homes,” he said.
Mr Daly said that staff who contract the virus are out of work for a period of time, which is also having an impact, with over 1,000 nursing home staff currently out of work due to Covid across the country. In terms of visitation to nursing homes, he said that people still need to be vigilant and that visitors should continue to wear a mask and are also encouraged to take antigen tests.
“If people are regular visitors to nursing homes they should be mindful of their social contacts on an ongoing basis because the priority should be that they’d maintain well themselves so that they’re not putting either their own relatives or other residents in the nursing home at risk,” he said.
Mr Daly also called on The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and the HSE to make a decision about potential boosters for nursing home residents so nursing homes can “move quickly in terms of administering a further booster if required”.
Meanwhile, local advocate of the elderly Paddy O’Brien said the lifting of restrictions, particularly the lifting of mandatory mask-wearing, has contributed to the current situation and called on people to “take it upon themselves to do the right thing and continue to wear a mask”.
“The figures for those diagnosed with Covid over the last two weeks, in particular, are exceptionally high. It’s a great disappointment to all of us when we thought for a very short period the good times were back again and that we could return to normal living,” he said.
“I feel that the removal of the mandatory mask-wearing was a wrong move and I think it has been a contributing factor relating to the present situation. It should never have happened and we should have at least waited another few months. Looking at the current figures I feel it was a step too soon to discontinue this very important restriction and people must now take it upon themselves to do the correct thing — and the correct thing is to wear masks at all times, especially in public places.”