A solution to the shortage of staff in nursing homes

22 April 2020
By Elaine Murphy

Health Politics

Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould TD has said that the focus of the “Be on Call For Ireland” initiative should be immediately directed to address the shortage of staff in nursing homes.

The Cork North Central TD stated that nursing homes on the frontline of the battle against Covid-19 are already struggling to fill rosters.

Deputy Gould said;

“It is clear now that the frontline in the battle against Covid-19 has shifted from our acute hospitals and our ICUs into the community and in particular to nursing homes and to other residential care settings. In the region of 50% of recorded deaths have occurred in such settings. We know too that staff are already under significant pressure due to the pandemic challenge.

“We hear of nursing homes struggling to fill rosters due to illness, sick leave and historic staff shortages. Indeed, in the worst cases, we hear of agency nurses turning up to work only to realise that they are the only nurse on duty.

“At the same time, thousands of suitable and eligible applicants are left waiting to get back into the system.

“Last week in the Dáil, Health Minister Simon Harris confirmed to Sinn Féin that, of 73,000 applicants to the ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ initiative, just 1,300 were in the process of being made available for a role or had started a role.

“This is completely unsatisfactory. There is an immediate and impending crisis in staffing in the nursing home sector and it needs to be addressed

“The response to the ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ initiative has been very positive but the system is overwhelmed and unable to cope.

“The Minister must intervene immediately. He must take control of the situation to ensure that ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ applications are processed as quickly as possible. Furthermore he should ensure that there is a comprehensive workforce plan in place for every nursing home in the country. This scale of the Covid-19 challenge demands this type of decisive intervention.”

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