Over one month of Coronavirus Response in Ireland’s Nursing Homes

Ireland’s chief medical officer said, as of April 16, that coronavirus cases in the population have decreased. However, nursing home cases are still a rising concern.

Nursing homes are getting the reputation of a “Cinderella Sector”, based in the European fairytale about an ignored stepsister that deserves more positive attention from her family.  Nursing homes are the ignored stepsister that grew into a Grimm’s fairytale version of the story.

Warnings of coronavirus started in early March. Nursing Homes Ireland responded quickly on March 4 with blanket restrictions on visitations. Pushback came from the National Public Health Emergency Team that found such a blanket response was too drastic at the time.  Three days later, the restriction was reinstated. On April 6, Ireland received criticism for its slow rollout of measures to tackle COVID-19 in care homes. In 10 days, the outbreak in public and private nursing homes jumped from 4 to 50. After more outbreaks, the recommendation was for lockdown for those over 70, without also pairing an offer of safe environments.

As of April 16, one-third of Irish care homes had at least one positive case of COVID-19. Ireland is in a unique position. Virology experts are calling for underutilized hospital staff to relocate their skills to nursing homes.

As of April 17, the Health Services Executive responded with strategies like staggering shifts to relieve workers making through the emergency. Another issue isn’t the need to add just any staff. Nursing homes are adding specialist guidance, depending on what any nursing home needs. Locally, people respond immediately as needs change daily.

The EU suggests that about half of COVID-19 deaths are in care homes. The Health Information and Quality Authority describes a way to bounce back from these numbers are to test all healthcare workers first and isolate positive cases. As of April 20, experts are continuing to call for testing health workers. Ireland’s reaction is appropriate. The country wants to ensure the statistics are accurate and will continue to look for cases and interventions moving forward.