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Covid-19 staffing crisis escalating within nursing homes

Thursday April 23, 2020

NHI warns promised redeployment of staff not presenting on the ground and staff urgently required

23rd April 2020: Nursing Homes Ireland today stated urgent staffing redeployment within our health services is required to support staffing complements within nursing homes. The heralded redeployment of staff is not manifesting on the ground. NHI presented a huge crisis is now emerging and is likely to exacerbate arising from mass testing for Covid-19 being undertaken in nursing homes. A snapshot survey of private and voluntary nursing homes across the country, undertaken Wednesday 22nd April, informed there are large numbers of nursing, care and other staff now unavailable due to Covid-19. Nursing homes informed of the following:

  • Senior Nurse: 60 nursing Homes informed the survey 107 senior nurses are absent due to Covid-19
  • Nurse: 102 nursing Homes informed the survey of 223 nurses being absent due to Covid-19. Four nursing homes informed of 10+ nursing staff being absent
  • Healthcare Assistant: 158 nursing Homes informed of 427 healthcare assistants being absent due to Covid-19. 29 nursing homes informed of 10+ being absent
  • 122 Nursing Homes informed of 281 persons being absent from other disciplines.

Asked if staff had been made available and redeployed by the HSE to support the staffing complement during Covid-19, 96% of nursing homes (227 of 236 responses received) replied no. 4% of nursing homes replied yes (nine).

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO said: “Many nursing homes are faced with a staffing crisis due to Covid19 and it is imperative they are enabled to meet this challenge. Our nursing homes are a vital element of the health service and the commitment to redeploy health staff needs to manifest.  The challenge is likely to escalate as mass testing is undertaken within nursing homes across Ireland and the number of staff unavailable increases. In some instances, large numbers of nursing home staff are becoming unavailable and this is placing a huge strain upon nursing homes and the staff available to them. This is about care of our older people during a national health emergency. We simply cannot get this wrong. It is absolutely vital the promise that healthcare staff will be redeployed to support nursing homes start translating into feet on the ground within our nursing homes. The support committed by the State is very welcome, with private and voluntary nursing homes providing care to 25,000 people across the country. Many of the nursing homes informing the survey said their representations to the HSE led to them being informed staff are simply not available and they were redirected towards the use of agency staff. No health sector can deal on its own with a pandemic.”

NHI reiterated its request for inclusion on NPHET and the Department of Health Covid-19 nursing homes working group. Mr Daly said: “The surge within our nursing homes persists. Yet the voice and input of our sector remains absent from NPHET and the Department’s planning to respond to the what is occurring within nursing homes. We are seeing the issues presenting on the ground as they arising within nursing homes across the country. We want to bring to these to the table and measures that can stem this pandemic within our nursing homes.”

The survey also informed a large majority of nursing homes do not believe the Temporary Financial Assistance Scheme is fit for purpose. 84% of the respondents (205 nursing homes) to the question posed that asked is it fit for purpose replied ‘no’. Nursing homes reported during a period when extreme pressures present, the application process is hugely cumbersome, bureaucratic and unworkable. With the survey informing 23% of residents in 252 nursing homes are non-Fair Deal, nursing homes stated the scheme must encompass the care costs for these residents.

Mr Daly said: “We welcome the commitment by the Minister, his Department and the NTPF to constructively engage in resolving issues presenting. We are all striving to ensure residents in our nursing homes receive the most appropriate and best supports.”

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO, is available for further comment. Contact Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive at 087 9082970.