A public inquiry into the treatment of older people in care during the Covid-19 pandemic is urgently needed, advocacy group Care Champions said in advance of a seminar on Saturday.
The 'Care is better when loved ones are there' seminar, open to the public, will focus on trauma and tragedies endured during the pandemic with speakers asking how lessons can be learned so this can never happen again.
The audience will hear from families of residents who died alone in nursing homes or hospitals, as well as nursing home staff from the public and private sectors.
Care Champion’s Eimear Fitzgerald said: “This is to continue the awareness that the need still remains for the introduction of a care partner, and the public inquiry.”
Care Champion founder Majella Beattie has campaigned since very early in the pandemic for access to care facilities to be on a human rights basis.
The term ‘care partner’ is used in Northern Ireland to refer to a nominated person who visits a nursing home resident or hospital patient among other situations and assists staff with this person's care in a defined way.
The advocacy group continues to receive calls from family members facing restricted access to their relatives in care homes or hospitals.
She said guidelines issued by the HSE are not always implemented locally.
“There is so much pain and suffering as a result of what went on over the last three years, that we need to give people the opportunity to explore any details that can be explored,” she said. “And to find out exactly what went wrong.”
The Irish Association of Social Workers chair Vivian Gerian will also address the seminar, and is expected to raise the role of social workers during the crisis.
Age Action’s head of advocacy and public affairs Celine Clarke is also among the speakers.
Ms Fitzgerald said they also have the backing now of other groups including the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the Care Alliance.
The seminar opens in the Terence Larkin Theatre at Dublin City University’s Glasnevin campus at 1pm on Saturday.
The session is open to all between 1pm and 2.30pm, and will be followed by a private session for any affected families between 3pm and 4pm.