Friday, June 11, 2021

Sarah Mooney

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has slammed a “grossly irresponsible” plan to end Covid funding support for the sector.

The Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme (TAPS) was established at the beginning of the pandemic to support all nursing homes with additional costs incurred due to Covid-19.

The scheme, which allows nursing homes to claim an outbreak assistance payment in the event of an outbreak of the disease, is due to expire at the end of the month.

NHI, the national representative body for the private and voluntary nursing home sector, is seeking clarity from the Government and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) regarding how homes will continue to finance enhanced infection prevention control measures.

NHI chief executive Tadhg Daly said the decision to end the funding “defies logic” in the face of new variants of the disease and warnings of a fourth wave.

“It is of extreme concern the State is planning to completely withdraw this support that has become so vital and sends a very worrying signal nursing home care will again be de-prioritised within our health services as we emerge from Covid-19,” he said.

“It is astonishing and incredulous that the first cut-off in sectoral support is targeted at the nursing home sector, which experienced the most devastating impact of Covid-19.”

‘Dismay and shock’

NHI said TAPS has been used by nursing homes to increase deployment of staff and to introduce and use specialised equipment.

Nursing homes have expressed “dismay and shock” to the body over the withdrawal of the scheme, and have asked how they can continue to fund measures that have become embedded within their care practice.

“The Covid-19 Expert Panel has recommended nursing home care shift towards a more medical model through implementation of enhanced infection prevention control measures,” Mr Daly said.

“No dedicated funding support has been made available by Government to implement the recommendations, almost a year after the Expert Panel produced its recommendations, and TAPS has acted as a bridge to enable measures be implemented.

“We want clarity from Government. Are the measures supported by the scheme now embedded within nursing home care practice to cease?

“If learnings and recommendations are to be achieved from Covid-19 for nursing homes, they need to be supported by the State.”

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