A care worker has hit out at the HSE for failing care homes for people with disabilities, saying that 6 weeks into the Covid-19 crisis workers in the sector have still not been provided with protective equipment and clothing. 

“We’re seven weeks into the lockdown and we’ve been asking for masks and other protective gear since the beginning but we just keep getting fobbed off, and its like no-one wants to hear,” she said.

“I was told by management that we didn’t need PPE even though we were dealing with children with profound disabilities – that was the directive from the Department of Health,” she claimed.

“A lot of us have just made our own masks from the beginning, and we’re bringing in Dettol spray ourselves, but at the back of my mind is the fear that we’re bringing Covid-19 into the workplace and we are working with people with profound disabilities who often have underlying conditions that would put them at high-risk of succumbing to the virus.”

“I’m worried sick about it, some days I feel like saying we need to strike or something to call attention to what’s happening, but we can’t abandon the people who we care for,” she said.

Speaking to Gript Media, the care worker, who works in Dublin in a residential care home for people with profound disabilities, said that like many other healthcare professionals she felt she needed to remain anonymous or risk losing her job.

“What happened with elderly people in nursing was appalling, but most people don’t realise that care home for people with disabilities are still being neglected.  Staff haven’t been tested, residents haven’t been tested, we have no PPE,” she said.

One shocking claim made by the care worker was that when one client in the resident home needed to go to a hospital which was treating people with Covid-19, the staff member accompanying him to the hospital wasn’t isolated or tested.

“They isolated the client when he came home, but we had no PPE for attending to him, and different staff attended to his needs all the time. And they never isolated the staff member who went to the hospital with him, and neither of them were tested either for the coronavirus,” she said.

“I just take care to take every precaution to keep the clients safe and their area clean and disinfected that’s all we can do, but we – staff and residents – are being seriously let down. I’m just praying we won’t go the way of the nursing homes.  It’s awful, some nights I can’t sleep for the worry and lots of us are the same,” she explained.

“Simon Harris finally met with Inclusion Ireland on this yesterday, 7 weeks into the crisis. People with disabilities are clearly not a priority for the government, but that’s no surprise,” she said.

The authorities say that 10 people have died due to Covid-19 in residential care homes for people with disabilities. Inclusion Ireland said that there are “information gaps in reporting” which need to be addressed.