Tuesday, 7 July 2020
Department of Health
I propose to take Questions Nos. 765 and 767 together.
During the response to COVID-19, Nursing homes continue to be regulated by HIQA, who under the Health Act 2007 have the legal authority to examine the operation of any facility under their remit. Any individual cases of concern should be brought to the attention of HIQA and the relevant HSE Safeguarding and Protection Team
In addition, a series of enhanced measures have been agreed by NPHET for long-term residential care settings and these are currently being implemented by the HSE, HIQA and service providers. They include measure to support facilities which have outbreaks of COVID-19, measures aimed at stopping the transmission of the virus and support the provision of PPE to and screening of staff. All of these measures and actions are aimed at supporting the protection and provision of safe care of the residents of long-term care facilities.
On foot of a National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommendation, on 23 May a COVID-19 Expert Panel on Nursing Homes was established, to examine the complex issues surrounding the management of COVID-19 among this particularly vulnerable cohort.
The purpose of the Panel is to examine the national and international responses to the COVID-19 crisis, and to examine the emerging best practice. Its main objective is to provide immediate real-time learnings and recommendations in light of the expected ongoing impact of COVID-19 over the next 12-18 months. COVID-19 is a new disease, which can present atypically in the frail elderly, and new evidence and best practice in its management are constantly emerging. I expect the Expert Panel to submit their final report to me later this month.