Donnelly warns more needs to be done to protect home care workers from Covid-19

Published on: 02 April 2020

Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has warned more needs to be done to protect home care workers who are currently not being supplied with personal protection equipment (PPE).

During statements in the Dáil he highlighted a case where one health care worker in Dublin who often sees ten different clients a day has contracted COVID-19.

He said the worker also lives in a small house with eight other health care workers who also have ten clients a day raising the very real risk of the disease spreading.

Deputy Donnelly said, “It is entirely possible that some of them have been infected and in turn passed the virus on to vulnerable people they care for.

“The HSE have confirmed they have no PPE to provide to home care workers.

“This has to change. There are 13,000 private home care workers in Ireland. It makes no sense to tell everyone over 70 that they can’t leave their house, while sending into those same homes people with no training in infection control and no PPE.

Deputy Donnelly also warned more needed to be done to tackle the growing spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes. He said he had been contacted about one nursing home with 200 staff where 70 staff have now tested positive.

He continued, “Of the 100 residents in the nursing home 19 have tested positive and tragically four have passed away. In addition, three kitchen staff and two cleaners have left.

“They don’t know how they are going to cope as no agency staff are available.

“This is being repeated across the country. Nursing homes can’t get staff particularly in skilled areas like palliative care and they can’t get PPE.

“I know the HSE is trying to deploy their own staff to fill in the gaps where they can but much more is needed. Vast sums of money are being spent to build capacity for people when they get sick. But very little seems to be spent in stopping vulnerable people getting sick in the first place.

“There are a series of questions doctors and nurses want answered by the Government to

Why are we only testing 1,500 a day?
Why are healthcare workers waiting so long for results?
Why are clinicians still being told not to wear masks in hospitals?
Why is modelling work on projected cases being withheld from the public?
Why are private consultants going to be paid more than many HSE consultants during the crisis?
Why is the HSE not able to say how many COVID-19 cases it is likely to be able to handle?

“I will continue to ask these questions on behalf of our frontline staff,” he concluded.