DUP South Antrim MLA and Vice-Chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee Pam Cameron has called on the Health Minister to spell out when local care homes can expect to receive payments as part of a multi-million-pound funding package he announced almost five weeks ago.
Commenting, Mrs Cameron said:
‘‘Care homes across Northern Ireland are operating under a great deal of pressure as they continue to provide high-quality and compassionate care for the most vulnerable and those at high-risk of transmitting the virus.
The £27m funding package announced by Robin Swann therefore came as a welcome boost to the sector, pledging support for testing, staff costs, cleaning and improvements to allow safe visiting, including pods and screens.
However, the scheme has been slow to get off the ground and many settings do not have clarity on what can be claimed or when the funding is likely to reach them. It is imperative that the Department act now to iron out these issues and restore confidence. Given that we are already experiencing the second wave of this pandemic it is critical that financial support arrives in time to mitigate the risk of burnout among staff and ramp up testing among both workers and residents. It shouldn't be a case of too little too late.
In his statement on 22 October the Health Minister said he hoped the new funding package would facilitate more visits to care homes. It is time that vision became a reality. For too long care home residents have been unable to spend time with their loved ones and friends, with significant impacts on their physical and mental health. That cannot go on indefinitely. Robin Swann must find ways to accelerate this support in order to ensure the needs