Tuesday, 9 June 2020
Department of Health
Nursing Home Accommodation
394. To ask the Minister for Health if the list of high-risk nursing homes drafted by HIQA and sent to the HSE at the end of February or early March 2020 will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10134/20]
On 13th March HIQA provided the Department with a list of 19 HSE/HSE funded nursing homes identifying that as these had multi-occupancy rooms this created infection prevention risk. This information was sent by the Department to the HSE on the same day for their attention and the HSE has confirmed on-going risk management of these centres.
On 29th and 30th of March key officials from the Department, HIQA, HPSC and HSE met to discuss nursing homes. It was agreed that representatives from the Department, HIQA, HSE and HSPC would collaborate to prepare a paper, encompassing a framework of necessary information, for consideration by the NPHET at its meeting of 31st March on the specific issues and risks relating to COVID-19 infections in residential healthcare facilities. To inform the development of the paper, HIQA provided an information framework document to the team on March 30th. A variety of potential risks were identified. These included the risk of small providers, access to infection prevention and control (IPC) advice, access to PPE and timely access to testing. Following consideration of the paper referred to at the above NPHET meeting of 31st March, NPHET requested HIQA to risk assess all nursing homes and liaise with relevant national and regional governance structures as necessary in light of mitigating actions. This was part of an overall package of public health measures recommended following this meeting.
At the NPHET meeting 17th April an action was agreed that ‘HIQA publishes and assesses a COVID-19 Quality Assurance Regulatory Framework’. This Framework has been designed to ensure that providers are prepared for, and have contingency plans in place for, an outbreak of COVID-19. As part of the programme HIQA has developed a self-assessment tool for nursing home providers. This self-assessment tool sets out the minimum standard required to effectively respond to an outbreak of COVID-19 in a designated centre. This involves a self-assessment by the registered provider and an onsite assessment by inspectors of social services to verify the provider’s compliance against specified regulations.
If further action is required by the registered provider to ensure compliance with the specified regulations, a compliance plan will be issued to the registered provider by the inspector of social services following the in-site assessment.
I note that during the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response debate on the 26th May 2020, in discussion on this particular matter, HIQA was requested by the Chairperson of the Committee that institutions not be named. HIQA is engaging with all providers in the context of the regulatory framework and as noted, compliance plans are issued by HIQA, as appropriate.