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HSC continuing to support care home sector


The HSC is continuing to support colleagues in the care home sector deliver safe and effective care to residents during the Coronavirus pandemic.

As of June 26,  there remained 34 confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks in care home settings across Northern Ireland.

There have been 173 confirmed acute respiratory outbreaks in care homes with 122 of those now declared closed. An outbreak can be declared over when there are no new cases for 14 days.

Brendan Whittle, Deputy Director of Children and Social Care at HSCB noted; “Things in our care homes have improved but there can be no let-up in the work to protect residents.  The HSCB will continue to give this work focus and drive for as long as is needed.”

On June 5, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), the Public Health Agency and the Department of Health secured a further £11.7m financial support package for care homes to help them meet the challenge of the pandemic.  This is welcome and makes a real and positive difference.

Additional support made available to care homes includes improved access to PPE; enhanced cleaning regimes; wrap-around support/mutual aid from HSC Trust colleagues; protocols to reduce footfall in the homes; enhanced support from primary care through virtual ward rounds and from community pharmacy partners; IPC training for all staff; provision of additional equipment to support care and contact with family members etc.

Trusts and care homes will continue to work closely together to ensure regional guidance continues to be implemented, to help ensure residents are kept safe and well.

In addition, the PHA’s health protection team continue to support the facility throughout the outbreak process from the time of notification to its conclusion.

The PHA has also put in place robust surveillance arrangements to monitor the trends and patterns of these outbreaks to guide acute response and policy direction within Northern Ireland.

Minister Robin Swann has recently established a new group to learn from care home experiences of Covid-19.  The group includes representation from the independent care home sector, the Health and Social Care system and the Royal College of Nursing. It will be taking forward the Rapid Learning Initiative on care home experiences announced by the Minister earlier this month.