Nursing home residents could face months before visits, warns geriatrician

Consultant geriatrician Professor Sean Kennelly has warned that nursing home residents could have to wait months before they receive visitors.
Nursing home residents could face months before visits, warns geriatrician

Consultant geriatrician Professor Sean Kennelly has warned that nursing home residents could have to wait months before they receive visitors.

There is a potential that residents could not see their families for months, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Most residents have already not received visitors for some time since restrictions were introduced in nursing homes in early March, said Prof. Kennelly. There is a need to find a way that residents can continue to live in their (nursing) home, but do so in a safe fashion.

At present most patients are receiving care in their rooms so they are not congregating and this is having a “severe psychological impact,” he added.

This pandemic has emphasised the need for a robust system of medical care. There will be 1.2million in the next 20 years over the age of 65.

“We need to be looking at more immediate solutions like own door assisted living so that people don’t have to be moved early on (to a nursing home).”

Prof Kennelly has called for everyone in residential nursing homes, including staff, to be tested if Covid-19 is going to be eradicated from them. He pointed out that many patients and staff can be asymptomatic with only one third displaying symptoms of coughing and fever.

A targeted approach towards testing in nursing homes is necessary as the HSE is already under pressure and it was “a big ask” for the executive to provide staff to “shore up” nursing homes, he said.

Prof Kennelly, who provides support in 14 nursing homes in the Dublin area, said that ‘patio visits’ are being organised in a number of facilities so recovered patients could get visits.

Meanwhile, Simon Harris will meet Nursing Homes Ireland and the health watchdog today about the coronavirus crisis.

Almost half of the 687 deaths from Covid-19 in the Republic relate to nursing home residents.

Hiqa will today publish new guidelines for the sector ahead of urgent inspections next week.

    The current restrictions started on Friday, March 27. They mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice physical distancing

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