Nursing homes can avail of up to €2,500 to enable safe visits this Christmas, Deputy Fergus O’Dowd, Fine Gael TD for Louth has said.
Deputy O’Dowd said: “The Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme (TAPS) has been expanded on a once-off basis to allow nursing homes claim up to €2,500 to enable them to enhance the safety of their visiting spaces and also to create additional safe visiting spaces where needed. This was confirmed to me by the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Mary Butler, in response to my Dáil question on nursing home visits this Christmas.
“It is so important we do everything possible to keep nursing home residents safe and reduce the risk of infection and transmission of the virus into nursing homes.
“Unfortunately this year the usual festive Christmas celebrations will not be possible, but any additional supports to create safe and appropriate environments for visitations in line with public health guidelines are very welcome.
“We know that nursing home residents do look forward to their visitors, and particularly at this time of year it is great that families and friends can visit again. It is incredibly important that individuals in nursing homes have appropriate social interaction over the holidays and I hope that the majority of providers throughout the country will avail of this scheme to help them do so.”
The newly updated guidance provides that residents may be facilitated to receive up to one visit by one person per week under Levels 3 and 4 of the framework of restrictive measures; and up to one visit per two weeks under Level 5.
It also notes that at all levels of the framework for restrictive measures in the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19, every practical effort should be made to accommodate an additional visit on compassionate grounds during the period of major cultural or religious festivals or celebrations of particular significance to the resident, such as the Christmas/New Year period.
Deputy O’Dowd continued: “This has been an incredibly difficult period for residents of nursing homes, families, friends and all nursing home staff.
“I have consistently used my Dáil time to raise issues relating to how nursing homes can be supported through this pandemic and I will continue to do so.
“We have seen the devastating impact the pandemic has had on nursing homes throughout the country, and we must never lower our guard to the immediate dangers. The European Centre for Disease Control recently published it latest risk assessment in respect of long-term residential care services and it clearly concluded that the risk related to COVID-19 infection in the EU is currently considered very high for residents of these services.
“Only a comprehensive vaccination rollout will provide the safe environment we need to return to some sort of normality”, Deputy O’Dowd concluded.