(29 March) Age Action today called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to ensure that the HSE take immediate and urgent measures to protect persons with a disability living in large congregated settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 clusters were reported in 3 residential settings and 17 nursing homes which accounts for 22% of the total number of COVID-19 clusters /outbreaks in Ireland according to data prepared by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre for NPHET on 28/03/20.
‘With the curtailment of HIQA inspections and family visits during the crisis and the severe shortage of protective equipment, Age Action is concerned that these centres are also prioritised at this time. Age Action is calling on the Minister for Health and the HSE to ensure that these settings get the appropriate supports and protective equipment they need and that family members are informed of the measures being taken’ said Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action.
‘Large congregated settings have been tolerated for too long in Ireland and should have been de-congregated years ago. The group nature, shared eating areas and campus-type setting means those living in them are at grave risk from COVID-19’ said Paddy Connolly, CEO, Age Action.
According to HIQA, there are 2,900 people with a disability living in congregated settings the many of whom are older. The HSE, reported that there were 732 people over the age of 60 living in a congregated setting in 2018, of those 262 were over the age of 70. Congregated settings are out-dated group living arrangements which have been earmarked for de-institutionalisation.
Reflecting on the vulnerability of people who are the most marginalised in society Connolly said ‘It is the most de-valued members of our community who inevitably will suffer the most in this crisis. Those who have no stable home, sleep rough and live in unsuitable accommodation where protective measures are harder to implement’.