Older People Need Diverse Supports in COVID-19 Crisis

MEDIA RELEASE    17th April 2020

Older People Need Diverse Supports
in COVID-19 Crisis

Dr Diarmuid O’Shea, President of the Irish Gerontological Society

Older people living either at home or in residential care have very different needs which need to be met by carers and health professionals according to Irish Gerontological Society (IGS) President, Dr Diarmuid O’Shea.

The consultant geriatrician at St. Vincent’s University Hospital advised that it is a mistake to categorise all people over-70 into one homogenous group. They enjoy very different levels of independence, health and social engagement.  The renewed focus and support from the National Public Health Emergency Team on the Nursing home sector is  a welcome one.

“Our thinking and actions are being challenged in this new ‘Covid-World’ and it is not easy for anyone. The supports and care older people receive in their communities, economic policies, homeless shelter,  public transport, distance working are all areas we have to fundamentally re-think.  The time is right to look at “A Vision for Change - Transforming Care of Older People 2021 to 2031”.  The Older Person’s Programme in the HSE will play a crucial role in this in the years ahead” Dr O’Shea added.

In a paper on  ‘Nursing Home Care and COVID-19’ produced this week for Irish Gerontological  Society members, he made five key points that:

  • It is important to acknowledge, with gratitude, the work that the teams providing care in nursing homes are doing at this difficult time and the value and trust we place in the professionals running the nursing homes and the people providing that care
  • Nearly 50% of recorded deaths from COVID - 19 have been occurring  among nursing home residents
  • Well-being, life-planning, illness, dying, death and bereavement are all part of life in  nursing homes
  • Nursing home residents who require beneficial and appropriate hospital care are getting it
  • Subjecting a person to non-beneficial treatment is not compassionate end-of-life care
  • The new government should appoint a dedicated Minister for Older People with cross departmental and societal reach