A new study has shown that Irish nursing homes appear to be hit worse by Covid-19 than some other European countries. 

The international study by Adelina Comas-Herrera and Joseba Zalakain was published by the International Long Term Care Policy Network and examined mortality in care home residents during the coronavirus crisis.

In looking at in five European countries, Ireland had the second worst rate of care home deaths as a percentage of total COVID-19 deaths at 54%. Only Spain was worse at 57%, while Belgium was the lowest of the other three countries examined at 42%.

The authors said that “there is growing international evidence that people living in care homes are particularly vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infections and that they are experiencing high rates of mortality as a result.”

This study identified the following factors as contributors to the spread of COVID-19 in care facilities:

  • Staff who worked while symptomatic
  • Staff who worked in more than one facility
  • Inadequate familiarity with and adherence to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) guidance
  • Challenges to implementing proper infection control practices, including inadequate supplies of PPE and alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Delayed recognition of access due to low index of suspicion
  • Limited availability of testing
  • Difficulty identifying persons with COVID-19 on the basis of signs and symptoms alone

As Gript has previously reported, the Irish government also reversed an earlier decision by Nursing Homes Ireland to ban visits to care homes, a decision some commentators feel may have risked lives.