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Private nursing homes have expressed concern over the loss of their frontline health workers

Private nursing homes are concerned about the loss of their nursing staff. Nursing homes say many private nurses are moving to the HSE and the public health sector during the pandemic.

Nursing homes claim that agencies working for HSE are recruiting a large number of their frontline workers. Nursing Homes Ireland has therefore called for a six-month pause on the recruitment of vital nursing home staff.

However, HSE said in a statement to RTE News that it was not targeting nursing home staff and did not want to deplete any health care workers. HSE states that their posts are advertised in a transparent and open manner and that candidates who deem the criteria are eligible to apply.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, said the reality is that they are losing employees to the HSE and other public health sectors. “We’ve seen the tragedy of Covid so there is a systemic issue long-term that we need to address.” Mr. Daly said he had discussed the matter with Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Olivia Geraghty, HR manager at Sonas Nursing Home Group, said that nursing homes lost a lot of frontline staff during this COVID period. Ms. Geraghty said she was able to retain the housework and catering staff but was unable to retain key nursing staff.

She said it was essential for nursing homes to retain their staff in the face of increasing COVID cases. But at the same time, Ms. Geraghty said there had been a lot of recruitment from HSE during this period and a lot of reference requests and resignations from nursing home staff.  

“We need to have continuity of care for our vulnerable residents. It’s very worrying for us to think that this is going to continue in the weeks and months ahead,” Ms. Geraghty said.

Mairead Byrne, in charge at Kilkenny’s Gowran Abbey nursing home said she had recently lost three key staff members who entered the job as community swabbers.

She said that there was an agreement between HSE and Nursing Homes Ireland at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic not to hire staff from nursing homes. However, she said she was losing some of her most senior staff.

“Staff are being taken from nursing homes at a time when we are approaching the possibility of winter flu, Norovirus, and the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot compete with the HSE and public health.”

Meanwhile, others said it was very difficult to replace lost staff in the current situation.

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