Lessons must be learned: inquiries needed into how COVID-19 so badly affected nursing homes

30 May 2020

Statement from the Council for Healthcare of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference on Nursing Care Homes during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Council for Healthcare of the Irish Episcopal Conference wishes to acknowledge the tremendous work of our doctors, nurses, administrators, chaplains and ancillary staff in healthcare facilities across the country. Their tireless efforts have helped to curb the spread of COVID-19 and saved the lives of many people. Their dedication has been a source of inspiration and hope for all of us at this difficult time. We thank them sincerely and assure them of continuing support.

These past few months have seen much sadness and loss and we pray especially for the grieving relatives and friends of those who have died because of COVID-19.

Our elderly parents, grandparents and relatives are among the most vulnerable during this pandemic and, thankfully, for many of them strict cocooning appears to have been an effective strategy in suppressing the spread of the virus. It is distressing, however, that more than half of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing care facilities. For various reasons, COVID-19 has had its most damaging impact among the residents in such settings.

We would welcome appropriate inquiries into the reasons why nursing care facilities were so badly affected. Lessons must be learned. More and more people will be availing of nursing care in the years ahead. Nursing homes should be prioritised by the State to ensure that they have the personnel and equipment necessary to deal with such crisis situations as soon as they arise. Every resident is someone’s mother, father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend. They have played their part over many decades in contributing to their communities and to the economy. The lives of those who live in such facilities should be valued, respected, and enhanced.

Human life is sacred and precious from the child in the womb to the elderly person in care. We must do all that we can to protect life and to improve the quality of life for those who are particularly vulnerable. At this time, the coronavirus crisis presents an opportunity for society to reflect on where it stands in relation to the elderly and to others who are most vulnerable among us. The lessons learned will enable us to build a culture of life and care where everyone is supported and all are entitled to life-protecting services and facilities.


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