Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
560. To ask the Minister for Health the date on which the Covid-19 roadmap for the reopening of day care services for older persons will be communicated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30309/20]
We all know that community services such as day care and respite services play an important role in enabling older people to continue living in their communities and maintain their social connections. These services contribute to positive ageing and better overall health. However, the introduction of physical distancing, isolation and restricted contact with family and loved ones has changed the usual dynamic of social interaction.
The HSE continues to work closely with providers and community staff to identify where service is most required and has been undertaking risk assessments of local services. This is to ensure, insofar as possible, that Day Care services and respite services can resume in the context of COVID-19 and having regard for Public Health advice.
Services will resume when it is safe to do so; when all infection prevention and control measures and the requirements of physical distancing can be maintained, so as to protect service users and staff and prevent any further spread of the virus. Some Day Centres may not be suitable for reopening due to the constraints of their physical environment and it will be necessary to continue or expand alternative service delivery models developed during recent months. Some of the issues identified by the HSE include;
- Day Care Centres operated in shared public facilities where other groups are also accessing the building and the risk of infection spread.
- A number of HSE Day Care Centres are attached to HSE Residential Care Units and the clients of both the Day Care Centres and the residents from the Residential Care Unit are in the same location and use shared facilities.
- Transport of clients to the Day Care Centres where family cannot assist.
- Availability of isolation areas, should a client or a member of staff become unwell.
I understand the impact that the continued delay in the re-opening of day centres and the restoration of respite services is having on older people and the important role this service can play in their lives. I have asked the HSE to ensure that it continues to assess the risks and benefits of re-opening, as well as continuing to expand and explore alternative ways of delivering services to this vulnerable group. I am also continuing to meet with groups that work with and on behalf of older people to see how they can best be supported during this challenging time.