C: Nursing Homes Ireland via Twitter (Maxwell Photography)

‘A promise broken by our government’: Nursing home staff protest over delay in Covid-19 Payment 

Over 2,000 letters from private and voluntary nursing home staff across Ireland have been delivered to the Department of Health calling for the Covid-19 Special Recognition Payment to be processed as soon as possible.

It comes as it emerged that nine months after the Pandemic Payment was announced by the Government, 40,000 staff from nursing homes that were on the Covid 19 frontline have yet to receive the payment as promised. 

Staff from across a range of disciplines within nursing homes assembled at the Department of Health for handover of the letters on Tuesday in a demonstration which was organised by Nursing Homes Ireland.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is disappointed that the payment has yet to be paid to all healthcare workers. Addressing the Dáil, Mr Martin said that roughly 123,750 staff had received the €1,000 payment but that a “much faster methodology” must be found to pay remaining non-HSE workers.

Speaking at the demonstration, Julie McNeela, Household Manager at Áras Mhuire Nursing Facility, said that she and her colleagues “feel very let down”.

“We were trying to keep Covid out of our building, we were trying to save lives, we were trying to reassure our elderly,” she told RTE News.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland said that the organisation was inundated with responses from staff who have endured a long wait for promised recognition of their efforts.

“We received a phenomenal response when we asked staff to articulate their frustration having waited over half a year for a payment promised in recognition of their heroic efforts during the pandemic,” he said. “We asked for 1,000 letters from staff to coincide with the payment being €1,000 but over 2,000 put pen to paper”.

He continued: “Staff spoke of the extreme pressures they and colleagues were placed under, the traumatic loss of residents, the very serious emotional toll they experienced, exhaustion as they worked around-the-clock to protect residents, and the impact of Covid 19 continuing to live with them day-to-day. 

“The sacrifices undertaken by staff in nursing homes were phenomenal and immense. Yet the promised recognition has been considerably soured when we are nine months down the road and it is still to be paid to staff from private and voluntary nursing homes. Staff working in State healthcare settings have received it yet it is shocking and damning that after nine months, it has not found a means to roll it out to private and voluntary nursing home staff and others. 

“The letters articulate immense frustration, anger and upset being experienced by staff in private and voluntary nursing homes because of the extreme delay in rolling this payment out. A general feeling coming from the letters is that staff feel disrespected by the State”.

He said that staff were extremely frustrated over the delay in processing the payment, adding: “The letters articulate immense frustration, anger and upset being experienced by staff in private and voluntary nursing homes because of the extreme delay in rolling this payment out. A general feeling coming from the letters is that staff feel disrespected by the State”.

 Mr Daly said that owing to the fact the payment was announced in January, it should have been paid to staff in March and April, adding that it should have been paid before the summer like it was for other staff across the health service. 

“It is appalling that the Department of Health dwelled on this matter for over half a year before deciding a tender process would be required. We hope the feelings articulated by staff will provide impetus for the payment process to be expedited and they will receive due recognition.”

Staff shared their disappointment in their message to the Government. One Healthcare Assistant based in Co Cork said she was “deeply saddened and disappointed” that the payment is yet to be rolled out to staff in the sector that were on the Covid frontline., 

“This has been a very difficult period for myself and my colleagues both mentally and physically. I find the approach taken by Government in relation to this matter shows a complete disregard and disrespect to all that served on the frontline. This has become such a drawn-out process and news of further delays is extremely frustrating and disappointing for all staff who played a pivotal role during that difficult time,” the key worker said.

Another staff member who submitted her response in a letter to government has been a nurse for 20 years, and working in a nursing home for 18 of those years.

The nurse from Co Clare said that while she loves caring for older people, she has never experienced more stress than from the time of Covid. 

“I didn’t go visit family or friends in case I would pick it up,” she said. “I got so stressed about it I ended up getting panic attacks. Eventually I had to change my job because the stress had become too much. In January 2022 we heard we were getting €1,000 for all our hard work and the stress we endured. I said I would book a holiday on my credit card and here I am in October 2022 and still no payment received. 

“A promise broken by our Government that don’t care about staff in nursing homes. We are the ones caring for those who have made Ireland the place it is today – our wonderful older generation”.

An Activity Co-ordinator from Co. Dublin also shared her experience with the Government in one of the letters received, penning:

“I was a high-risk person working in a nursing home during through this period and was very fearful of Covid19. I watched residents and colleagues contract the virus and become extremely ill because of it. The role of activities was of key importance during the pandemic. With colleagues, we sought to bring happiness to residents and ease their worries. It was particularly important given people were disconnected from family and friends, and we supported connection through WhatsApp and Zoom. 

“It really was a concentrated team effort, working continuous days and long hours to help residents at a really difficult time. We are very proud of the outstanding care we provided to them during Covid19. This payment was to give us a degree of recognition but the delay has been ridiculous and left a sour feeling amongst staff. There has been plenty of time to get it arranged and I call on the Government to pay what it promised us”.

Joining the demonstration yesterday, Sister Mary Ward, 84, a resident of Maryfield Nursing Home in Chapleizod in Dublin, said that the carers in her nursing home were “extraordinary”.

“It’s a small token, it’s not a reward, it’s a small token of gratitude for committing themselves to such difficult work,” the care home resident said.

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related
Comments are open

Should Fr Sheehy apologise to Simon Coveney?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...