Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has expressed huge disappointment key structural reforms to ensure lessons are learned from Covid-19 have not been advanced by Government, on the first anniversary of the Covid-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel report.
NHI accused the Government of apathy in bringing into effect proper support structures for nursing home residents and staff after the Covid crisis has been brought under control and of diverting its focus away from nursing home care. This will only exacerbate a crisis already presenting said the NHI.
The NHI said that calls from the nursing home providers for the resources required to be put in place have been largely ignored to date, with many of the medium to longer term recommendations now stagnant. They added it is clear one year on from publication of the report, much remains still to be achieved by Government within the remaining six-month lifespan for recommendations to be implemented.
Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states: “Covid-19 must present a line in the sand moment for nursing home care in Ireland. Yet a different crisis is now the headline within the nursing home sector. Our sector is frustrated as the recommendations to achieve fundamental, long-standing reform have been left stagnant, with just six months remaining for them to be addressed.
“The Panel advanced a reformed environment for nursing homes to operate in but it is hugely concerning no impetus is being presented by Government to address the fundamental issues identified by it for redress. It cannot be countenanced the recommendations, which were delivered after Covid-19 brought long-standing structural issues to the fore, will be left hanging by the State.”
To coincide with the anniversary, NHI has published a report which it commissioned Accenture to undertake, Covid-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel Impact Assessment. It identifies three themes that require State redress and prioritisation:
Integration: Covid19 highlighted access to community care services for nursing home residents is inconsistent, fractured and unstructured. An updated integrated model of care is required to ensure nursing home residents have access to community care services that are vital to support their health and social care needs.
Resourcing: The report identifies over a five-year period from 2015 to 2020 operating costs for nursing homes have risen by 37.6% while Fair Deal Rates have increased by 11.12% over the same period. A model that ensures funding is based on an assessment of resident needs and dependency levels has long been ignored and must be brought into effect to reflect the rising costs to deliver high-quality, person-centred, specialised care in nursing homes.
Workforce: The challenge of private and voluntary nursing homes ‘losing’ staff to both the wider healthcare system and other sectors needs to be addressed within a comprehensive nursing home workforce strategy. It needs to concentrate on attracting and retaining staff within gerontological care and to ensure appropriate staffing mixes are maintained to support high quality resident-centric care. Recruitment and retention, education and training, and options for career development within nursing home care urgently require a dedicated strategy.
The report has been presented to the Minister for Health, Minister for Older People and key stakeholders.
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