Systematic reform needed in nursing homes, according to professor

Systematic reform is required for how care is provided in Irish Nursing homes, according to the chair of the Covid-19 Expert Panel on Nursing Homes.

She was speaking before the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee this morning.

Data showed that by mid-July, 985 of the 1,748 deaths reported in the Republic were recorded in nursing homes.

Professor Cecily Kelleher says the report's recommendations need to be carried out in a relatively quick time frame:

"The recommendations must reflect that systematic reform is needed in the way care is delivered in the future.

"Each area of recommendation, in 15 thematic areas has a suggested clear lead agency and a time frame of implementation.

"This ranges from immediate and ongoing to within two years of the publication of the report."

She said public health preparedness is 'essential' now for individual nursing homes.

She also said during the committee meeting that incidence rates across care homes have varied by region .

Nursing home deaths

Their report also showed within the nursing home framework there is a gap in clinical oversight.

The expert panel made a series of recommendations covering areas such as staffing, their skills mix and visiting protocols.

Professor Cillian Twomey says we have to assure we do not see numbers like there were in July:

"We cannot overstate the extent to which during the peak period of deaths in mid March and late April, the devastation it caused.

"Obviously first and foremost on the people that died and their families but also on the staff, it was hugely devastating.

"If there is any incentive we require to concentrate on implementing these recommendations, it is the reminder we cannot go back there again."

The panel says we cannot allow the country to go back to a scenario that saw hundreds of elderly residents die from the virus.

They told the covid-19 response committee that each facility is assured of a core quantity of PPE and rapid access to extra supplies in the event of a covid-19 surge.