Toll on nursing homes revealed: 369 residents die of Covid in last month
‘We believe our suggestion that a nominated visitor for a resident should also be vaccinated remains a good and practical one’ – Tadhg Daly, head of Nursing Homes Ireland
1,543 residents have lost their lives to Covid-19 in nursing homes; 369 in the last month.
February 02 2021 10:56 AM
The Covid-19 infection situation in nursing homes remains precarious and those impacted by the virus are under extreme pressure as critical time may have been lost in bringing them vaccines, the Oireachtas health committee was told today.
The committee was told that 1,543 residents have lost their lives to Covid-19 in nursing homes; 369 in the last month.
Tadhg Daly, head of Nursing Homes Ireland told the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee :”We do feel a critical window of opportunity was missed. With nursing home residents the most susceptible to the virus, just 10pc of the initial 77,000 Covid-19 vaccinations administered by mid-January were within nursing homes.
“It is appropriate to remind that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee agreed nursing home residents and staff would be priority. The first vaccines arrived in Ireland on December 26 yet the first was only administered in a private or voluntary nursing home on h January 7 2021,” Mr Daly said.
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“Every day is vital for our nursing home residents and staff. We are grateful that our representations for vaccine administration to be expedited, entailing utilising every available day, were heeded and implemented.
“We believe our suggestion that a nominated visitor for a resident should also be vaccinated remains a good and practical one in addressing some of the challenges associated with visitor restrictions.
“A system also needs to be outlined with urgency for those residents and staff who missed the vaccine the first time due to having Covid and for new admissions to nursing homes, from acute settings and the community. We remain engaged with a view to securing commitment from the HSE and public health to immediately bring into effect a policy to address this important issue.”
He added :”Vaccination is bringing us towards a new dawn for the relatives and friends of nursing home residents. But there is a way to go and to protect our most vulnerable; the public health advices entail ongoing temporary but extended visitor restrictions, bringing tremendous pain and sorrow.”
He said the collaborative approach that was implemented following the onset of Covid-19, albeit delayed, remains in place. However, the entire health service is under immense strain, with more than 6,000 staff absent due to the virus and over 1,800 being unable to work within nursing homes.
“Staffing is the predominant emergency that presents today across our health services. Within homes with outbreaks, available staff are going to extraordinary lengths at huge personal sacrifice to ensure continuity of care.”
He said the majority of nursing homes are not experiencing an outbreak currently.
“The situation remains precarious and those impacted by the virus are under extreme pressure.”
He said that following inordinate and extended delays” we are pleased to inform of significant progress in reducing the processing times of atypical working visas for non-EEA nurses.
“We are continuing our engagement with the Department of Justice in this regard and will monitor turnaround times closely to ensure that targets are being met and essential frontline staff are recruited in a timely manner.”
Mr Daly said that a new beginning is slowly emerging.
“The rollout of the vaccination is bringing huge relief and hope within nursing homes. The biggest reaction amongst residents, staff and families is thankfully euphoria and it is important to acknowledge the contribution of the vaccination teams and all stakeholders in the roll out,” he said.
“It has been a success across the country, with the feedback very positive and extremely high levels of uptake being reported amongst residents and staff.”
Hundreds of nursing home residents still without Covid jab following surge
Esteve Font, 93, a resident of Gent Gran Creu de Palau nursing home in Girona, Spain, celebrates after receiving a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on December 27, 2020. Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images
February 03 2021 02:30 AM
Hundreds of nursing home residents are still without their Covid-19 vaccination after being hit by another wave of infection as the virus spiralled out of control in the new year surge.
The virus struck several nursing homes last month claiming the lives of 369 elderly residents.
The extent of the death toll in such homes, reaching 1,543 since the start of the pandemic, was revealed at the Oireachtas Health Committee yesterday.
One in three of the Covid-19 deaths in January was a nursing home resident.
It comes after the first wave last year when nursing homes suffered high levels of infection.
And they are still continuing to battle outbreaks with 4,300 residents and staff infected.
However, health officials said yesterday that due to the outbreaks, four homes have yet to be offered the Covid-19 vaccine and another 117 are only partially vaccinated because so many had the virus.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said early in the new year he hoped all residents and staff would be vaccinated by the end of January but that target has not been met.
Tadhg Daly, head of Nursing Homes Ireland, said the situation in nursing homes remains “very precarious” with 193 open outbreaks.
He said: “Staffing is a predominant emergency that presents across our health service.”
There are around 1,800 nursing home staff who are out due to infection or being a close contact. HSE and Department of Health officials said the very high levels of community transmission meant it was inevitable nursing homes would not escape in the third wave.
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The spread was also accelerated by the more infectious UK variant.
However, the committee was told that a key recommendation of a top level review of nursing homes – following last spring’s devastation – was still not in place. It called for a proper system of clinical oversight of nursing homes pointing out that residents had their own GP but were without an overarching medical lead in many cases.
The committee was told that the HSE is still “scoping the model” on this and working with GPs.
Yvonne O’Neill, HSE director of community operations, said 100 homes are affected by staff shortages.
Mr Daly said a “critical window of opportunity was missed” in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine.
He said: “With nursing home residents the most susceptible to the virus, just 10pc of the initial 77,000 Covid-19 vaccinations administered by mid-January were within nursing homes. It is appropriate to remind people that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee agreed nursing home residents and staff would be a priority.
Fred is distressed; his long time friend is in a step-down facility from SVUH. Last night, he phoned relentlessly to find out if his friend had made any progress, but there was nobody there to even answers a phone. 19 calls and from 7 to 11 pm, the phone literally rang out. This cannot be acceptable and indicates that the stories about loved ones being in contact through Facetime is more about PR than transparency and Truth.
One more consideration: there are many young people, especially those who may have had spinal injuries, certain neurological conditions, or acquired brain injury, who have to live their lives, amidst the elderly in these care homes. These fellow human beings are a most neglected cohort of people, who are young, vulnerable and given the impact of deaths on care homes; these people are affected adversely now and going forward by post traumatic stress disorder or more severe mental illness.