The staffing crisis in nursing homes is “escalating” as the promised redeployment of personnel to tackle Covid-19 is not happening.
That is according to Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) which said the “heralded” redeployment of staff to private nursing homes promised by the Government “is not manifesting on the ground”.
The organisation said that “a huge crisis” is now emerging and is likely to be further exacerbated arising from mass testing for the virus now being undertaken in nursing homes.
It emerged on Wednesday that, of the 769 deaths notified to date across the country, 348 (just over 45%) were in nursing homes.
An NHI snapshot survey of private and voluntary nursing homes across the country undertaken on Wednesday revealed large numbers of nursing, care, and other staff are now unavailable due to Covid-19.
Asked if personnel had been made available and redeployed by the HSE to support the staffing complement during the crisis, 96% of nursing homes (227 of 236 responses received) replied ‘no’.
Just nine nursing homes (4%) said they had received extra staff.
The survey also found:
- 60 nursing homes surveyed had 107 senior nurses absent due to Covid-19;
- 102 nursing homes informed the survey of 223 nurses being absent, while four nursing homes said in excess of 10 nursing staff were absent because of the virus;
- 158 nursing homes reported 427 healthcare assistants being absent due to Covid-19, with 29 nursing homes reporting in excess of 10 healthcare assistants absent;
- 122 nursing homes informed the NHI that 281 staff members from other disciplines were absent.
NHI chief executive Tadhg Daly said many nursing homes were now at a crisis point in terms of having enough staff to meet the Covid-19 challenge.
“Our nursing homes are a vital element of the health service and the commitment to redeploy health staff needs to manifest,” he said.
“The challenge is likely to escalate as mass testing is undertaken within nursing homes across Ireland and the number of staff unavailable increases.
“In some instances, large numbers of nursing home staff are becoming unavailable and this is placing a huge strain upon nursing homes and the staff available to them. This is about care of our older people during a national health emergency. We simply cannot get this wrong.”
Mr Daly said the HSE is informing nursing homes that the required staff are “simply not available” and are being redirected towards the use of agency staff.
“It is absolutely vital the promise that healthcare staff will be redeployed to support nursing homes start translating into feet on the ground within our nursing homes. The support committed by the State is very welcome, with private and voluntary nursing homes providing care to 25,000 people across the country,” he said.
At Wednesday’s briefing of the National Public Health Emergency Team, the HSE’s group lead for older persons, Dr Siobhán Kennelly, said that “far more people recover than die from Covid in nursing homes, it’s important to remember that”.