Christmas Socialising Led To Covid Care Home Case Rise

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The Director of a Tipperary nursing home believes the level of socialising over Christmas meant it was inevitable that Covid-19 would re-enter care facilities.

Sandra Farrell, who oversees Patterson’s Nursing Home in Roscrea, says that lessons were learned by the nursing home sector following the first wave of the virus.

However, it was announced yesterday that 369 people with Covid-19 died in nursing homes last month alone, as well as 4,300 cases in such settings in January.

Sandra says the high public infection rates meant that the virus was always likely to seep back into nursing homes:

“When I was on air earlier last year, our biggest thing was around access to PPE and retention of staff. We learned from that, we had the best contingency plans in the world, in theory.

“What happened in January was a disaster because of how we behaved at Christmas time and New Year, unfortunately. The community transmission was so high that it was inevitable it was going to make its way into nursing homes.”

Sandra is also calling for clarity from the Government on when visits can resume following vaccination of residents.

She says that while there remain concerns over variants of the virus, that residents deserve to know when they can see their loved ones again.

Visits remain banned during the Level 5 restrictions, but administration of the second dose of the vaccine will be completed in nursing homes in the coming weeks.

Speaking on Tipp Today earlier, Sandra called for some guidance on when visits can resume.