Minister for Older People Jim Daly has called on nursing homes to find ways to allow family members visit relatives during the Covid-19 crisis.
Mr Daly, who is still the acting minister despite retiring from politics, said nursing homes should introduce perspex screens to allow people visit loved ones who are in their care.
Speaking on Indpendent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast, the former Cork West TD said: “I think on a human level it is very, very, very difficult for the residents of nursing homes not to have met with loved ones and not to have had visits from loved ones.”
“It is something I would like to see improved is the access of people from the outside into nursing homes to see their loved ones again, you know with a perspex screen. There are ways and means of doing everything,” he added.
Mr Daly said he agreed with Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan’s initial decision not to ban visits to residential care settings despite private nursing homes restricting visitors.
“You have to get the balance right and I would have been on the side of Tony Holohan I have to be honest,” he said.
The minister said the “next frontier” in the Covid-19 crisis may be the plight of the 20,000 vulnerable people who are being cared for in the community.
He said there have been 56 confirmed coronavirus cases among this group and 40 of those have been admitted to hospital. “It is important we are watching that and continuing to protect vulnerable people who are still in the communities,” he said.
Mr Daly said he has purposely avoided doing media during the pandemic following an agreement with Health Minister Simon Harris.
“Minister Harris and I have discussed this at length and it has been suggested that the media be maintained to himself on communications in relation to the Covid specific issues and for what it's worth I agree with him,” he said.
“You cannot have a situation where you have parallel communications happening and maybe disjointed communications. The fact I haven't been on media doesn't mean I haven't been involved in the day to day operations of the department,” he added.