Over 350 Covid deaths reported in nursing homes during January, committee hears

ireland
Over 350 Covid Deaths Reported In Nursing Homes During January, Committee Hears
A nursing home resident receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, © AP/Press Association Images
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There were 369 deaths associated with Covid-19 reported in nursing homes during the month of January an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Nursing homes accounted for 37 per cent of the deaths recorded last month according to figures shared with the health committee today.

There are currently 193 outbreaks of the virus in nursing homes, leading to 4,300 positive cases in January among staff and residents, while €66.9 million has been paid to nursing home providers in temporary assistance payments.

Nursing Homes Ireland told the committee a critical window was missed by not vaccinating all  residents immediately after the vaccine became available, highlighting that just 10 per cent of the first 77,000 vaccinations were given to nursing home residents and staff.

That is despite them being top of the priority list, just ahead of healthcare workers.

According to figures from the HSE, as of January 13th, 7,925 doses of the vaccine had been administered in long-term care facilities, compared to 69,378 doses given to healthcare workers.

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The HSE's Clinical Lead for Older Persons Dr Siobhan Kennelly told the committee there are still problems in the system.

"The issues have been highlighted through the nursing home expert report in terms of the risks that are posed by congregated settings for very frail, older, and vulnerable groups.

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Almost 250 Covid deaths occured in nursing homes d...
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"Those issues unfortunately have not gone away and I think we are going to have to look very fundamentally at what the model of care looks like in terms of the provision for these particularly vulnerable groups and how they can be cared for in the future."

The committee also heard staff shortages continue to be a major issue for the nursing home sector, with more than 1,800 staff currently unavailable according to The Irish Times.

The chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, Tadhg Daly told the committee the situation in nursing homes is "very precarious", adding: "The entire health service is under immense strain".

"Staffing is the predominant emergency that presents across our health service," Mr Daly said.

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