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DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has called on the Health Minister to publish a clear plan for care homes in Northern Ireland.

Commenting Mr Campbell said,

“With 483 nursing and care homes in Northern Ireland catering for over 10,500 residents, there needs to be a long-term roadmap for everyone who depends on this sector. Covid-19 has radically overhauled how this sector will function in the future but there needs to be taskforce created in the DoH to rapidly help the sector adjust.

Elderly and vulnerable people crave their regular visits from friends and relatives. They miss the lunch and afternoon clubs that they used to be able to host or visit. They have been isolating now for seven weeks, depending on telephones for contact with people outside the care setting. But that isolation cannot continue indefinitely.

We need to strategically look at how interactions with people outside the care setting can be managed without compromising the biosecurity of the setting. We need to look at what technology is available in each care setting. Do they have broadband access for residents? Can new facilities be built to accommodate visiting through a partition wall. All of these measures will require long term planning.”

DUP vice-chair of the Stormont Health Committee Pam Cameron said,

“It is right and proper that we take every precaution in order to protect and care for our most vulnerable in our community, those most at risk from Coronavirus. There needs to be a long term strategic plan for care settings.

Testing is a critical part of any plan, as is the appropriate use of PPE and ensuring care homes have adequate staffing/expertise including nurses.

We want to see testing ramped up so staff and residents are able to be tested as regularly as necessary so that a clear picture can be built by the Department and outbreaks identified at an early stage.”