Taoiseach backs calls for 'full evaluation' of Cork nursing home deaths

Cork TD Mick Barry hit out at the communications surrounding the provision of care at a nursing home in Glanmire.
Taoiseach backs calls for 'full evaluation' of Cork nursing home deaths

Ballynoe Nursing Home, where more than 20 people have died since an outbreak of Covid-19 was reported at the facility.

Relatives who lost loved ones to Covid-19 at a Cork nursing home are still left with more questions than answers, a Cork TD has claimed.

Socialist TD Mick Barry raised the plight of those at the Ballynoe Nursing Home in Upper Glanmire in Cork, where more than 20 people have died since an outbreak of Covid-19 was reported at the facility. Not all these deaths were related to the virus, but many were.

Mr Barry raised the issue at a sitting of the Dáil, claiming that relatives remain in the dark about some of the issues.

Referencing the Irish Examiner’s coverage of the crisis, he said: “Relatives are deeply unhappy with the way both they and their loved ones were treated.

“There are many questions that demand answers."

He said these questions included why the wrong information was given about residents who had Covid-19, and he criticised the communications surrounding the nursing home.

“Is it credible that residents received world-class healthcare in a home where communications were worse than what you would expect in a banana republic?" the Cork North-Central TD said.

He also attacked the company that, in 2017, bought CareChoice, which runs the nursing home. Among the specific concerns he raised are staffing levels at the centre.

“There must be answers for these relatives," Mr Barry concluded. 

He called for Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to ask the health watchdog Hiqa to carry out a full investigation into what happened at the home.

He also asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin if he would support calls for a public inquiry into nursing home deaths around the country.

Mr Martin said: “There's no excuse for poor communications between nursing homes and the relatives of residents, no excuse for that.

“That should be an obligation of the provider to ensure that communication is there.

“We need answers in relation to the specifics here in this case. 

There are a number of issues that have been raised, which do deserve full and comprehensive answers.

However, in response to Mr Barry’s request that he support calls for a public inquiry, he replied: “When we emerge from Covid, we should have a full evaluation.” 

He said this would be to “not just learn the lessons but understand what happened and how we can improve the design of care for the elderly into the future”.

As reported in the Irish Examiner last week, some of the relatives of those who have died at the 51-bed home have complained about issues, including access to loved ones and poor communications with staff.

CareChoice has apologized that its communication and interaction with relatives was "not of our usual standard".

Relatives claim they found out “by accident” their loved ones had the deadly virus, which had infected a small number of staff and residents by January 13.

And there have also been issues raised about residents who only tested positive after they were moved from rooms they had lived in for years.

The way relatives witnessed their loved ones dying has also been raised as an issue.

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