‘Grossly irresponsible’ – nursing homes shocked at decision to withdraw Covid-19 supports

Nursing homes have slammed the decision by the Government to withdraw Covid-19 supports as “grossly irresponsible”.

he Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme (TAPS), which provided funding for Covid-19 infection control, will cease at the end of this month. The funding went towards increased staff numbers and specialised equipment.

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI), the body which represents private nursing homes, has written to the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Older People Mary Butler seeking clarity on the decision.

Nursing home providers have expressed dismay and shock about the withdrawal of funding due to concerns about the Delta variant.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of NHI, said the decision “defies logic”.

“It is of extreme concern the State is planning to completely withdraw this support that has become so vital and sends a very worrying signal nursing home care will again be de-prioritised within our health services as we emerge from Covid-19,” Mr Daly said.

“It is astonishing and incredulous that the first cut-off in sectoral support is targeted at the nursing home sector which experienced the most devastating impact of Covid-19.”

The Department of Health confirmed the funding is ending.

“Priority vaccination has been provided to nursing homes and it is very encouraging that uptake has been very high among both residents and staff,” a spokesperson said.

“A strong vaccine effect in nursing homes is already evident, with significant reductions in cases and mortality. The success of the vaccine programme in nursing homes means that these outbreaks are almost gone. As of 8th May 2021, there were 5 open COVID-19 outbreaks, with only one new outbreak in the previous week.

In line with the temporary nature of the scheme and recognising the significantly improved situation in nursing homes, the government has no plans to further extend the Scheme. The closure of TAPS at the end of June 2021 was a condition of its final extension, as previously announced, and there are no conditions identified that would indicate that a further extension is required.”

More than 2,000 nursing home residents have died from Covid-19 in Ireland, with more than 1,000 being recorded in the third wave.

The Coroners Society of Ireland has this week called for a “wide ranging inquiry” into the number of nursing home deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Families of loved ones who died from coronavirus have been calling for inquiries into their deaths. 

A recent report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found there were a disproportionate number of deaths among those living in nursing homes during the early stages of the pandemic.

It also found that many of the outbreaks were caused by factors outside the control of nursing homes.

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