By VIEW editor Brian Pelan
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissioner, Les Allamby, said today that there should have been “a comprehensive testing plan in care homes from day one” in terms of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
In an an interview on the Good Morning Ulster radio show on the BBC this morning, Mr Allamby said: “Sufficient priority was not given to care homes from the outset. We should have had a comprehensive testing plan in care homes from day one. We prioritised hospital care at the expense of care homes and we are paying the price for that.”
“We have also failed the care sector in the rest of the UK,” added Mr Allamby.
Meanwhile Carolyn Ewart, the National Director of BASW NI (the professional association for social work and social workers in Northern Ireland) said that BASW NI believes regulatory inspections by the RQIA (the regulatory body responsible for inspecting care homes in Northern Ireland) should recommence.
“BASW NI understands that in the current circumstances, most routine social work visits to care homes, with the exception of mental health assessments, have been temporarily suspended.
“Contact with service users is crucial to ensuring their needs are met, and during this period of lockdown, most social work contact is being maintained via electronic means.
“Given the significant numbers of social work staff involved in conducting support visits, BASW NI recognises the difficult decision to suspend visits to care homes has been taken to minimise the risk of infection to care home residents who represent a particularly vulnerable group.
“However, while it is essential the dangers posed by coronavirus are reduced as far as possible, it is vital that the standards of care provided to care home residents are upheld.
“The risks posed by failure to conduct thorough inspections into standards of care are very real and BASW NI believes regulatory inspections by the RQIA should recommence, with staff conducting inspections using appropriate personal protective equipment to minimise the possibility of infection both to themselves, residents, and care home staff.”