Similar to the rest of Europe, care homes in Northern Ireland are facing significant challenges as a result of Covid-19.
There is extensive work ongoing right across the HSC to protect our residents and staff.
Initiatives include significantly extending the level of testing in care homes.
Large quantities of PPE have been flowing to the independent sector from Trusts for a number of weeks – around 2.5m items per week. All provided for free.
Significant numbers of Trust staff are also working in care homes, reflecting the strong partnership we have and we are constantly hearing positive feedback from care homes about the support they are being provided.
We will continue to consider every possible measure to ensure care home staff and residents are safe.
Last week, a £6.5m package of additional support was announced for the care home sector.
Also last week, the Department of Health issued updated guidance for care homes.
The guidance provides updated advice on areas such as the use of PPE, testing for staff and residents, staff redeployment and caring for residents in a care home setting. Importantly, the guidance sets out a new approach to managing discharges from hospital.
The overall ‘surge’ plan is being revised to ensure that the HSC can respond effectively and appropriately in supporting residents, staff and the wider care home sector at this very challenging time. This will be published shortly.