Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Drug and Alcohol Services, and Homelessness): Statements
Cathal Crowe (Clare, Fianna Fail)
I wish to put a number of points to the Ministers of State and I hope that they will be able to respond within time.
Yesterday morning, I met Family Carers Ireland's County Clare branch, which is led by Ms Vicky Ward. It was a virtual meeting, as everything has gone virtual these days. Nonetheless, it was nice to be able to see the carers and engage with them. They have two significant concerns and I hope that the Ministers of State will be able to give them some assurances or indication of what will happen.
First, they seem to be way down the pecking order on the schedule of vaccinations. Actually, they do not really know where they are in the pecking order. The obvious approach to take is to categorise family carers, who care for vulnerable people in their home environments, as key workers. If we did, they would be at level 6 in the 15-point vaccination roll-out plan.
Second, they are finding it difficult to secure PPE. It is impossible. The HSE works like the spokes of a wheel. Imagine the local GP, pharmacy or primary care centre as being on the outer rim. That is the obvious point on the supply chain where family carers should be able to get sterile nitrile gloves and all of the other PPE they need to care for their loved ones at home. They are front-line workers, keeping people out of acute hospitals and filling a key role during this crisis. I ask that my suggestion be considered.
There is no discharge co-ordinator for the new 60-bed block at University Hospital Limerick. This means that when someone is about to be discharged but still requires acute care in the community environment, there is no one to devise a plan for the local health nurse and other local support mechanisms. Will the Ministers of State respond to this point?