April 13, 2020
New HSE guidelines over nursing home patients if they contract Covid-19 causing Louth families ‘unnecessary fear and concern’ – Ruairí Ó Murchú TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Ruairí Ó Murchú has revealed he has been contacted by families from across the county this week voicing their concerns about the interpretation of HSE guidelines by some local private nursing homes.

One family, whose loved one is in a private nursing home, had been contacted last week and told that the resident would not be transferred to an acute hospital if they contracted the virus.

Deputy Ó Murchú said;

“I have been in touch with the HSE and with Nursing Homes Ireland – the representative body for the private care facility sector – and was able to reassure the family in question their needs would be paramount when it comes to the care of their loved one.

“The issues raised show how better communication and compassionate consultation with families is urgently needed.

“There has been anecdotal information coming to me this week from families who were told that their loved ones would not receive acute hospital treatment if they contracted Covid-19.

“This is a frightening experience for the families involved, but I have been able to get clarity from the HSE and the nursing homes sector about it and it is obvious that care plans for people in facilities will, of course, take into account the wishes of the resident and their families.

“These HSE guidelines, which were cited by the nursing homes, were not widely available and were not made available to the families, until my office sent them.

“What is required from nursing homes is that they maintain communications with families so residents and their loved ones can be assured that any consultation and decision made about care in the event of a Covid-19 diagnosis is done in a meaningful and compassionate way.

“The least that families and residents can expect is fair, upfront and compassionate communication from nursing homes.

“The views of senior clinicians and medical officers at the care facilities have, of course, to be taken into account to ensure the best outcomes for patients, following best practice.

“Everyone, without exception, has the right to life-saving medical interventions and no-one should fall out of that category because of their age.

“Families should feel secure and empowered to articulate their wishes for their loved one’s care in the event of the virus is contracted by the resident.

“Even if no-one expected the scenarios that the guidelines had detailed, families had not seen them before they were told about them and this caused a huge amount of unnecessary fear, when, with some compassion, a lot of it could have been avoided.”

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