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Fears over virus spread among Home Support Service carers

Antoin Watters
Sinn Fein councillor for Dundalk-Carlingford Antoin Watters.

The threat of Home Support Service in Louth workers getting ill and not being able to provide their vital services to those who need it, as well as the potential for cross-contamination, has led to one local councillor raising his concerns with the HSE.

Sinn Féin’s Antoin Watters says he has written to the HSE this week to express his unease at the current situation as the damaging effects of the coronavirus start to hit almost every aspect of daily life in Ireland and across the world. The north Louth based councillor says he has been contacted by scores of constituents who receive care or who have a family member who do.


“Workers in the Home Support Service provide an essential service and travel to people throughout our area,” he said in a statement.

“They are a lifeline to many in our community and those that have contacted me are also concerned for the well-being of these home care support workers because if they get ill they obviously won’t be able to attend.  However, there is the potential of cross contamination because of the very nature of their work involved.

“I have contacted the HSE and raised my concerns with them. I fully believe prevention is better than cure. I have requested that extra hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes are provided for ‘at risk’ individuals and that the personal protection equipment provided to workers be increased.”

Cllr Watters said among the concerns raised with him were worried people concerned about Home Support workers coming to their home, having already visited numerous others and the risk of spreading of the Covid-19 virus that posed. He believes increasing the quantities of wipes and sanitisers made available would put minds at ease.

Last Friday, Nursing Homes Ireland announced new restrictions limiting the number of visitors that can attend their nursing homes – including nine in Louth – at any given time, while on Tuesday this week, Louth County Hospital in Dundalk and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda also imposed new restrictions, including a ban on children visiting.

“We have seen in recent days that Nursing Homes Ireland has placed restrictions on those visiting nursing homes across the state. To the same end, I would encourage everyone to take extra precautions before they visit any vulnerable person.

“The advice we are being given is around hygiene. If we are all sensible and follow the advice about washing our hands and curbing our attendance at large gatherings then we can minimise the chances of contamination and thereby reduce the risk of infecting our older or vulnerable relatives or neighbours.”

The HSE Home Support Service, formerly known as the Home Help Service or Home Care Package Scheme, aims to support older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. It provides assistance with everyday tasks such as getting in and out of bed, dressing and undressing and personal care such as showering and shaving

The support clients receive is totally dependent on their individual needs. These supports are provided by the HSE or by an external provider, approved by the HSE and there is no cost.

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