The Catholic Church has called for inquiries into the devastating impact that coronavirus has had on nursing homes in Ireland.
To date, 900 nursing home residents have died due to Covid-19 in Ireland and they make up more than half of all deaths attributed to the disease here. This week the Dáil heard claims that nursing homes felt abandoned by the State when the virus first emerged.
In a statement released this morning (Saturday) the Council for Healthcare of the Irish bishops’ conference warned that lessons must be learned.
It said that “nursing homes should be prioritised by the State to ensure that they have the personnel and equipment necessary to deal with such crisis situations as soon as they arise.
“Every resident is someone’s mother, father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend. They have played their part over many decades in contributing to their communities and to the economy. The lives of those who live in such facilities should be valued, respected, and enhanced,” it said.
The council said “we would welcome appropriate inquiries into the reasons why nursing care facilities were so badly affected. Lessons must be learned”.
“Human life is sacred and precious from the child in the womb to the elderly person in care. We must do all that we can to protect life and to improve the quality of life for those who are particularly vulnerable.
“At this time, the coronavirus crisis presents an opportunity for society to reflect on where it stands in relation to the elderly and to others who are most vulnerable among us. The lessons learned will enable us to build a culture of life and care where everyone is supported and all are entitled to life-protecting services and facilities,” the bishops said.
The statement also acknowledged “the tremendous work of our doctors, nurses, administrators, chaplains and ancillary staff in healthcare facilities across the country.
“Their tireless efforts have helped to curb the spread of Covid-19 and saved the lives of many people. Their dedication has been a source of inspiration and hope for all of us at this difficult time. We thank them sincerely and assure them of continuing support,” the statement said.
The Dáil was told this week that hundreds of residents were discharged from hospitals to nursing homes without being tested for coronavirus.
According to the head of Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) Tadhg Daly the sector was left “exasperated” and without a “specific plan” to deal with the coronavirus.
Dr Marcus de Brun – a GP who quit his role in the Medical Council over the issue – described the management of the Covid-19 crisis as “the biggest political blunders in the history of the Irish State”.
Dr de Brun said those most at risk have “featured as something of an afterthought” to the HSE in the pandemic.