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Hiqa report reveals some main factors behind Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes

Community incidence rates near homes and the number of beds within homes were among the factors.

Image: Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych

SOME OF THE main factors behind Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes included community incidence rates near homes and the number of beds within homes, according to a new report. 

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has published a joint analysis of factors associated with outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes in Ireland during the first and second waves of the virus. 

Hiqa said there was a disproportionate number of deaths in nursing homes during the early stages of the pandemic. 

The report found that the probability of an outbreak occurring in a nursing home increased with rising community incidence around the home, the number of beds within the home and the presence of other nursing homes in close proximity. 

The proportion of residents in a nursing home affected by an outbreak decreased with an increasing number of beds, it found. 

In terms of the size of outbreaks, smaller outbreaks were associated with nursing homes having previously experienced a Covid-19 outbreak, according to the analysis. 

Hiqa’s chief scientist Dr Conor Teljeur said older people, particularly those who are frail or medically compromised, are at a higher risk of poor outcomes from Covid-19. 

“Those living in nursing homes have been severely impacted, with a disproportionate number of deaths during the early stages of the pandemic. Given their vulnerability to Covid-19, there has been an emphasis on safeguarding this population,” Dr Teljeur said. 

He noted that many of the factors identified as being associated with outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes are “outside the control” of the homes. 

Dr Teljeur added that “the analysis limited due to the lack of reliable and consistent data across nursing homes for a number of potentially important factors”. 

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Nursing home visits increased on 4 May from two per week to four per week where 80% of residents are fully vaccinated. 

Nursing home staff and residents were among the first group to be vaccinated against Covid-19, as part of the 105,000 people in the long-term residential care facilities group.

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