The Northern Ireland Executive has announced a £6.5m funding package for care homes in the province to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.
Health minister Robin Swann said Northern Ireland’s care homes are at the ‘forefront of the battle against COVID-19’ as he announced the new measures, which includes payments of £10k, £15k or £20k for all homes, depending on their size.
Under the measures, testing will now be carried out on all staff and all residents in care homes when a home is identified to the Health Protection team in PHA as having a potential outbreak or cluster of infections.
The previous approach was to test staff and residents displaying symptoms.
In addition, all patients being discharged from acute hospital care to a care home are to be tested 48 hours prior to discharge.
According to the Northern Ireland Executive, this will help care home staff to understand each resident’s status and to plan their care effectively.
The updated guidance also makes clear that all patients discharged from hospitals into care homes – whether they have tested negative or not – should be subject to isolation for 14 days.
In addition, all care homes are asked to make sure they check residents and staff twice a day for symptoms of coronavirus.
‘Ensuring that care homes have sufficient supplies of PPE is an absolute priority, and Trusts will work with care homes in their areas to ensure that each home has a buffer of PPE stock,’ added Mr Swann.
‘I am also taking steps to ensure that homes can continue to operate at this difficult time. Health and Social Care Trusts will continue to work in partnership with care home providers to help deal with staff shortages.
‘Where people have responded to our Workforce Appeal, those with the right skills will be prioritised for deployment with independent care home providers. Trust staff have already been redeployed to care homes and will continue to be.’
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