Donnelly calls for more information on COVID-19 in nursing homes

Published on: 17 April 2020

Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has called for more information to be provided about the extent of the presence of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

He explained, “We need greater clarity and transparency about the number of cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes and other residential care settings. At last night’s Department of Health briefing information was sought as to how many cases there were in such residences, but officials were not able to provide an answer.

“We hear media reports that COVID-19 is present in one in three nursing home settings. There are 425 clusters nationally with 244 of them in nursing homes, long stay units and other residential settings but this does not illustrate the full extent of the problem.

“We need the daily reports to include full details of the number of cases in care settings, the numbers that have been hospitalised, the numbers admitted to ICU, the numbers tested and the results of such tests, the numbers of deaths and also the numbers that have recovered.

“We also need to see a breakdown between the public and private/voluntary sector. It is clear that nursing homes are now the frontline of the battle against the virus and we need to have the full facts of the situation published.

“The HSE is due to announce further measures later today. Again, I have to ask why it is taking so long. Two weeks ago, in the Dáil I highlighted a nursing home with 200 staff, 70 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 100 residents, 19 had tested positive and four had died. Officials point to the unique challenges in nursing homes but surely this was entirely foreseeable given the vulnerability of older people to the virus and the communal nature of many of the settings.

“While the State and the HSE has stepped up remarkably well to meet the challenge of COVID-19 in the acute settings, the response to the nursing home sector has been consistently and inexplicably behind the curve,” he concluded.