Health Minister Simon Harris (file photo). Leon Farrell/
Intellectual Disability

'Deep concerns' about lack of reporting of Covid-19 deaths among people with intellectual disabilities

Inclusion Ireland will meet Health Minister Simon Harris today to discuss the situation.

LAST UPDATE | Apr 27th 2020, 12:37 PM

CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised about the lack of reporting of the number of people with intellectual disabilities in institutional settings who have died from Covid-19.

Inclusion Ireland, which represents people with intellectual disabilities and their families, will meet the Minister for Health Simon Harris this morning to discuss the situation.

There are currently about 2,900 people resident in institutional settings in Ireland, according to Hiqa figures.

Visiting restrictions are in place due to the pandemic and Inclusion Ireland said it is “a very anxious and worrying time for this group of vulnerable people and their families”.

Speaking ahead of the meeting with Harris, CEO Enda Egan said families have “deep concerns at the lack of reporting regarding the numbers of people with disabilities within institutions who have passed away from Covid-19″.

“They want assurances that these numbers will be reported and if an outbreak takes place in an institution that they will all be informed and kept updated on developments within GDPR rules.”

Separately, Egan told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland: “A lot of our members are very concerned that they’re going to wake up some morning and turn on Morning Ireland and find out that a residential centre where one of their loved ones happens to be residing has had an outbreak of Covid, or maybe even a number of people pass away.”

More than 1,000 deaths overall

More than 1,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Ireland to date, and there have been over 19,000 confirmed cases.

Clusters of the virus have been reported in nursing homes and other care centres.

Egan said “gaps in reporting” have resulted in unhelpful speculation.

He expressed concern on Morning Ireland that the figures from long-term residential institutions “are not being reported on a daily basis or even on a weekly basis the way that they are in relation to nursing homes”. 

“That’s something that we will be requesting the Minister to rive reassurances that that issue will be changed,” he said. 

“[There's] huge concern from families, of course, that what’s happening in nursing homes will be repeated in the large institutions that we have around Ireland.” 

Egan has also said that clarity is required around issues such as prioritisation of personal protective equipment (PPE) in long-term residential setting for people with disabilities.

Egan also said “flaws” in the national policy about “ethical decision-making and related considerations” need to be addressed.

Anne O’Connor, the HSE’s Chief Operations Officer, has said the executive is providing supports to 285 nursing homes, 82 disability services and 33 mental health services.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin 

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