The Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD has today published the Fourth Progress Report on implementation of the recommendations of the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel.

The report sets out progress achieved across the 86 recommendations in the Nursing Homes Expert Panel’s report and outlines the plans and structures in place to continue implementation along with details of next steps and timelines.

It highlights that many of the short and medium term recommendations which were aimed at safeguarding people living in nursing homes against the COVID-19 virus have already been implemented and mainstreamed into normal operations. This includes actions taken by nursing home providers and the provision of a range of state supports to nursing homes which are ongoing, including:

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Free PPE;

Access to expert advice and support via COVID-19 Response Teams;

Serial testing programme;

IPC training and guidance; and

Financial supports under the Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme.

The report also outlines the status of progress in relation to the range of medium to longer term strategic reform recommendations made by the Expert Panel. Highlights include:

Provision of over €22 million in Budget 2022 for implementation and mainstreaming of a range of Expert Panel recommendations, including the establishment of permanent Community Support Teams, piloting of clinical governance oversight committees and the development of a Safe Staffing Framework for the sector;

The development of legislative proposals to enhance governance and oversight of nursing homes;

The roll-out of the National Nursing Home Experience Survey earlier this year and the development of a National End of Life Survey for roll-out in 2023;

The extension of Patient Advocacy Service to all nursing homes from end 2022;

The development of a multi-annual End of Life Care Education, Training and Support Programme for nursing homes; and

A cross-Department Strategic Workforce Advisory Group examining workforce challenges in front-line carer roles in home support and nursing homes, which is due to report in September 2022.

Minister Butler (pictured) said: “The Expert Panel recommendations are wide ranging and require a multi-annual programme of work. The report highlights the important progress that has already been made and sets out clearly the structures and processes that have been established to ensure continued implementation. I was particularly pleased to be able to secure dedicated funding in Budget 2022 to support this.

“The pandemic shone a light on older persons’ care and highlighted many fragilities within our system and has resulted in the garnering of significant commitment to and momentum for wide-scale improvement across all stakeholders. I am committed to continuing to work with the Department, HSE, HIQA and stakeholders in further delivering on this crucially important and extensive programme of work.”

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