The establishment of the Nursing Home Expert Panel in response to COVID-19 was a necessary and commendable step on the part of Government. While the group was given a short-term focus and an extremely narrow timeline in which to complete its work, and while it did receive numerous submissions from stakeholders, we were disappointed with the Group’s overall lack of engagement with service users.
There has been huge variation reported by relatives around the country, seeking to visit their relatives in nursing home care. Prior to current nationwide restrictions, much depended on the judgement of the Nursing Home provider. While many nursing homes may be motivated by safety concerns, for some, it is an easy option to stop relative visits. There appears to be little consultation or dialogue with residents and their families with nursing homeowners arbitrarily developing their own rules. Stopping all visits should the last line of defence – not the first. NHQI stands ready to take part in any discussions between HSE, NHI and HIQA in this regard.