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COVID Funding to End for Nursing Homes (Last update: 10.06.21)
Private nursing homes in Ireland have accused the Government of undermining the residential care sector, as there are plans to withdraw funding at the end of June.
The purpose of the funding has been to assist with the costs of enhanced infection controls, PPE and staffing in nursing homes, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has written to the Taoiseach asking for an urgent meeting, stating the Government decision to withdraw supports creates a “cliff edge” for nursing homes.
The move to discontinue the Temporary Assistance Payments Scheme (TAPS) has arrived amid continuing concerns about new COVID variants emerging. There are also warnings of a fourth wave, as the economy reopens.
It is understood the TAPS scheme has paid out over €95 million in COVID support to nursing homes during the past 15 months.
Nursing Homes Ireland says the withdrawal of financial support is at odds with the Government’s COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel recommendations.
Tadhg Daly, Chief Executive of NHI said “It is wrong now for the Government to put us in a disadvantaged position again - and ironic that the sector that suffered the most is the only one where supports are withdrawn now. Are the Government saying the COVID-19 expert panel recommendations are redundant and that the public health warnings do not merit continued implementation of enhanced protection measures for residents?”
Mr. Daly added that the decision to withdraw the “vital support scheme” to deliver Public Health-recommended measures is “an absolute kick in the teeth for the sector”.
The TAPS scheme was introduced in April last year, to assist nursing homes to fund the unprecedented measures required -which could not have been foreseen under the Fair Deal agreement, the State support system that funds most of the private care home sector.
The TAPS scheme had initially been scheduled to end on June 30th of this year, but the industry had expected it to be extended, alongside other COVID supports for business.
Over 2,000 nursing home residents are thought to have died with COVID-19 to date and there have been calls for a national inquiry as to how the sector came to suffer so badly.
Some industry insiders have cited delays in supply of PPE at the start of the pandemic, staffing difficulties caused by the need for isolation measures due to COVID-19, a lack of promised staffing assistance form the HSE and the initial 5-day waits for test results.
Ireland is now beginning to reopen for business and many of us are returning to our workplaces and former routines. However, relatives of many nursing home residents will not see their loved ones again, and must live in the knowledge that mum or dad died without family around them.
Many nursing home nurses, ancillary and care staff feel they have been in the “forgotten frontline” having battled to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society under unimaginably challenging circumstances. The emotional fallout for them, and for residents’ families cannot be underestimated or go unacknowledged.
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