Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and the Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, have today announced new funding of €42 million for private and voluntary nursing homes to help them respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The €42 million will be used to extend the Temporary Assistance Payments Scheme (TAPS) to the end of June 2021. TAPS was established to provide financial assistance to contribute towards the costs incurred by private nursing homes in acting to suppress and manage COVID-19. The total amount available through the scheme from March 2020 to June 2021 is up to €134.5 million.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented challenge across our health services with a significant impact on nursing homes. The priority focus is to ensure that our nursing home residents are protected," a government statement read.
"A range of initiatives have been introduced by the Department of Health and the HSE to support nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:
- €134.5 million in funding for the Temporary Assistance Payments Scheme.
- Serial testing of all staff of nursing homes on a fortnightly basis. Since July 265,886 tests have been completed in 574 facilities.
- The provision of precautionary PPE and enhanced PPE in the event of an outbreak.
- Temporary accommodation for some nursing home staff to manage the number of contacts that they are exposed to.
- 23 COVID-19 Response Teams have been set up to provide multi-disciplinary supports and expert advice in the event of an outbreak.
- HSE staff redeployed to alleviate staff shortages.
- Access to HSE training and education services.
Minister Donnelly said: “I would like to thank nursing home staff and providers for their effort and commitment throughout what continues to be a trying time. Evidence shows that increased community transmission can lead to increased infection rates in nursing homes. We must slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout our communities in order to protect our vulnerable citizens, including those in long term residential care.
“We know that the impact of COVID-19 and public health measures have been very tough on residents and their families. Many nursing home staff have gone above and beyond to care for their patients during this pandemic. The Government has implemented significant and necessary supports to protect nursing homes, their staff and residents in recent months. This includes the Temporary Assistance Payments Scheme, which offers crucial financial support to nursing homes as they respond to COVID-19. I am glad to extend this scheme today until June, and trust that this will continue to make real difference in enhancing the level of care that nursing homes are able to provide in the coming months.”
Joining Minister Donnelly in welcoming the extension and expansion of the Scheme, Minister Butler said: “The continued need for the Temporary Assistance Payments Scheme and other non-financial supports is clear as the pandemic very much remains a feature of all of our lives. However, as well as providing immediate support to private and voluntary nursing homes, it is important to keep the longer-term picture in mind, to ensure that the actions taken now will be aimed at generating lasting improvements in how residents are cared for.”
“I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the considerable efforts and resources invested by the HSE in a responsive way to support residents in public, private and voluntary nursing homes. The supports established such as the COVID-19 Response Teams, clinical support, the supply of nearly €60 million of PPE free of charge to private nursing homes, and the critical serial testing programme contribute substantially to protecting residents during the pandemic.”