This Is A Chance To Fix A Broken System...or It'll Be Groundhog Day For All Our Nursing Homes

Irish Sunday Mirror|June 21, 2020

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This Is A Chance To Fix A Broken System...or It'll Be Groundhog Day For All Our Nursing Homes
Lessons should be learned to protect residents
Dr Jack Lambert

As we come to the end of the Covid surge in Ireland we move on and wait for the next flareup of this very unpredictable and lethal virus.

Have we learned our lessons from the last three months?

Or will it be Groundhog Day? This is what I worry about. Will the same mistakes be made again?

I have credited the Government about early lockdown and preparing acute care hospitals. This stopped us being worse affected than the likes of the UK, France, Italy and Spain.

However, we still missed the mark on the nursing and residential homes, and the inertia and lack of urgency that was a part of the Irish Governmental response was unacceptable and we could have done better.

Having seen horror stories and pictures on TV about what had happened in Italy with nursing homes, I said to myself we would not let the same thing happen in Ireland.

I have learned a lot about the nursing homes, from talking to colleagues and from caring for patients transferred to the Mater hospital from residential homes where they were diagnosed Covid positive.

And from letters and communications sent to me from community members, who felt they were not being listened to by the Government. It has been a steep learning curve.

The nursing and residential homes were not in the best shape even before Covid. There had been HIQA inspections, recommendations, re-organisation of the public and private sectors and, even to those working in the sector, it’s not clear who does what and who is in charge of what.

It is clear some of the public and private nursing homes were lacking good governance and indeed adequate staffing with trained specialists in medicine for the elderly.

There were clear pay discrepancies between acute care hospital staff, community residential staff and private residential staff. So standards and quality of staff have been issues even before Covid.

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June 21, 2020