Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly has called for necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to be provided for nursing home and home help staff as a matter of urgency.
Latest figures show that there are now 29 clusters of COVID-19 infections in nursing homes across the state.
Dublin Fingal TD O’Reilly has also called for provisions to be made for additional supplies of staff to be provided in cases where nursing home employees are required to take sick leave as a result of contracting COVID-19.
Teachta O’Reilly said: “The nursing home sector has come to the fore in recent weeks. There are increasing numbers of clusters of the virus in our nursing homes.
“The Health Protection Surveillance Centre tells us that there are now 134 COVID-19 clusters of at least three people and that nursing homes now account for 21% of these.
“The HSE and medical professionals are doing sterling work to try to stop the spread and treat people as well as they can.
“But it is now paramount to the safety of our nursing home staff and to our loved ones living in their care that all staff working in nursing homes are now provided with the necessary PPE.
“PPE is as important to those working in our nursing homes and to home help personnel as it is to those working in our healthcare services.
“Those working on the frontline taking care of our loved ones must have the adequate equipment to protect themselves from infection and to help lessen the chance of the virus being spread further.
“Many elderly people at home do not want to let anyone into their houses. They are normally visited by home help personnel but they are very anxious now.
“They need these services. That is why it is absolutely vital that PPE is provided to home help workers to put people’s minds at ease.
“Supply of PPE is crucial. We must ensure that we have a continuous domestic production line of various items of PPE and not be so reliant on the international market or we will run short and put people at risk.
“Nursing homes also need to be properly staffed in this time of crisis. We all saw the call to be on call for Ireland and people have responded.
“On call for Ireland means being where one is needed, whether in a nursing home, in the community, in an administrative role or in a field hospital, step-down facility or clinical hub.
“On call for Ireland means being where one is needed. Our nursing homes absolutely need a steady supply of staff to keep the residents safe. We all know that staff in nursing homes are contracting this virus and have to take time off, but the residents still need to be cared for.”