Nursing Homes write to Taoiseach to warn of cliff edge in sectorWednesday June 2, 2021
Scheme supporting Expert Panel & public health recommendations pulled by State
2nd June 2021: Nursing Homes Ireland has written to the Taoiseach asking for an urgent meeting following a commitment by Mr Martin yesterday in the Dail to a new relationship with private and voluntary nursing homes. The letter has questioned the creation of a cliff edge in the sector following Government decision to cease payment supports for enhanced infection prevention and staffing measures in the nursing home sector within 30 days. It comes in the face of continued concerns regarding new variants of Covid19 emerging and warnings of a fourth wave. It represents a demoralising development, flying in the face of the Government’s Covid19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel recommendations and previous commitment TAPS will fulfil a role in supporting enhanced improvements for nursing home residents.
Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO: “Our sector has had to face many cliff edges throughout the Covid 19 calamity. It is wrong now for the Government to put us in a disadvantaged position again and ironic that the sector that suffered the most is the only one where supports are withdrawn now. The decision to withdraw this vital support scheme to deliver public health recommended measures is an absolute kick in the teeth for the sector. TAPS enabled nursing homes to implement strengthened measures never envisaged under Fair Deal. These measures have been embedded within care practice in nursing homes. Nursing homes are confused and astounded by this move. Are the Government saying the Covid19 Expert Panel recommendations are redundant and that the public health warnings do not merit continued implementation of enhanced protection measures for residents? Almost one-year after the Expert Panel presented to Government its recommendations to strengthen the sector, it is unfathomable that the State feels the need to cut the only scheme providing financial assistance to support its measures. It represents early abandonment of the sector as we hopefully emerge from Covid19 and nursing homes have expressed bitter disappointment. It is so disappointing that the first cut-off in sectoral support is targeted at the nursing home sector which experienced the most devastating impact of Covid19.”
NHI said the move is an astonishing affront to staff and providers of care and those worst impacted by Covid19. The measures, which are now embedded in nursing home care, emanated from Covid19 and were recommended by the Covid19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel and public health. The decision to cease the Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme (TAPS) minus any replacement is an insult to those providing care in private and voluntary nursing homes. It will result in enhanced measures that were recommended to protect residents and staff from virus no longer being supported by the State as they are not encompassed under the Fair Deal scheme.
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin yesterday informed Dáil Éireann the scheme will cease, representing an early abandonment of the measures now embedded within the sector that his Government endorsed through the Covid19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel. The cessation presents serious questions regarding his Government’s commitment for lasting improvements within the sector to emanate from Covid19. An Taoiseach stated yesterday learnings need to be taken from the pandemic for the sector and it is incredible his Government has pulled the rug on this vital support. NHI is seeking immediate engagement with his Government on what should occur post cessation of TAPS.
As well as throttling the Expert Panel recommendations, cessation sets back the move towards a more medical-based model as proposed by the Department of Health, NPHET, the HSE and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
Tadhg Daly is available for further interview. Interviews will be facilitated by Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive who can be contacted at 087 9082970.
Note for Editor
TAPS only allows costs be reclaimed on an evidence-based basis. It represents reimbursement for evidence-based expenditure for measures not encompassed under the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal) to strengthen measures to protect residents.
Examples of TAPS supports for nursing homes:
- Increase in maintenance staff to support enhanced IPC measures more in keeping with a medical care model
- Introduction of specialised IPC equipment to support enhanced sanitisation procedures
- Additional carer hours to support residents
- Additional resourcing necessary to implement and manage restricted and new visiting arrangements
- Provision of dedicated isolation spaces for residents
- Rearrangement of nursing home outlays to encompass new living arrangements, with this having staffing implications.
- Support for new role of IPC Nurse Specialist, as per Covid19 Expert Panel recommendations
- Additional staff hours as per regulator requirement arising from Covid19.