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Nursing homes waiting up to 20 days for test results as staff shortages mount up


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Private nursing homes have been left waiting 20 days for coronavirus test results for residents and staff.

Nearly one in three of those surveyed have still not received protective wear to safeguard workers from infection, while a quarter said the protective wear was not fit for purpose.

The damning results have emerged from a survey by Nursing Homes Ireland.

In one case a resident died before their test result came back.

The ongoing behind-the-scenes difficulties faced by nursing homes highlights that the promised Government support measures are not coming fast enough.

The number of coronavirus clusters in these facilities rose to 86 yesterday, after weeks of outbreaks which have seen the deaths of several elderly residents.

In the survey, most of the 167 nursing homes said they were waiting up to nine days for a test result, but 44pc - equivalent to 74 homes - faced delays of 10 days or more.

Individual homes said they were waiting up to 20 days.

The delay means that nursing homes where workers are at home self-isolating face serious staff shortages.

Others said the results were coming back more promptly following the weekend announcement by Health Minister Simon Harris about a package of supports.

However, many nursing homes are also encountering problems securing protective wear such as gowns, goggles and masks for staff to safeguard them from infection.

Some 63 of the 205 nursing homes which answered that question said they were still waiting for such supplies.

The waiting time varied with some getting it within a few days. Some said they did not get a delivery if they did not have any positive cases of the virus.

Others have been waiting 18 days or not getting a full supply, and 44 nursing homes said the protective wear was unsuitable.

One-quarter said their engagement with the HSE on accessing protective wear was average but one in 10 said it was poor.

There were several difficulties identified by the homes, including only getting contact through email, and having no point of contact by phone.

Another nursing home owner said: "Engagement is fine but no action."

Another comment said the HSE is not giving the protective wear unless there are cases and "it is too late then".

A further comment said they got "a tiny percentage of what you asked for".

In some cases they turned to a private supplier or resorted to "home-made" versions.

Some 65pc of homes also received no contact from the HSE about transfer of homecare staff as promised.

Around 24 senior staff have left to work for the HSE as have 86 healthcare assistants.

Irish Independent