The chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid has said Ireland should look at moving away from nursing homes as it is difficult to protect older people from Covid-19 in congregated settings.
It comes as a HIQA report found half of Ireland’s nursing homes inspected over confirmed cases of Covid-19 complied with infection prevention standards.
The report found nursing homes were challenged in their efforts to maintain proper infection prevention and control standards due to staff shortages, as many workers were affected by Covid-19 themselves.
Mr Reid said: “This is not a time for any one sector blaming the other, we all have to put up our hands and take really big learnings around how nursing homes are overseen and what learnings we have seen throughout the pandemic so far.”
“The first learning is the obvious one, nursing homes and particularly congregated settings are not the environment in which you can protect people in a pandemic,” he told Newstalk FM.
Nursing homes have been at the epicentre of a disease outbreak which has proven most deadly for the frail and elderly.
Mr Reid said the health service needs to look at how they care for older people in the future.
“It can’t be in congregated settings.
“If you look at Denmark, they stopped building nursing homes a few years ago and I think that is lesson number one for Ireland,” he said.
“I do believe there is a gap when it comes to nursing homes and that is an issue we have to address, whether it is clinical oversight or governance.
“I am wide open as CEO of the HSE, to any learning that people believe we can make.
“Collectively we need to put a different environment in place in the future to protect our most vulnerable and elderly people.”