Notable increase in Covid-19 case numbers across mental health centres18 January 2021
Data we have gathered has shown a notable increase in suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst residents and staff of 183 residential mental health services in the first two weeks of the year.
We were also notified of the deaths of three residents in the week prior to Friday (January 15th), following their transfer to hospital after they became unwell in the mental health centre. Two of the residents had tested positive for Covid-19 prior to death, while the third was reported to the coroner as a possible Covid-19 case.
We continue to provide the Department of Health and the HSE with a weekly report that includes a summary of notified cases and any concerns identified as part of its risk monitoring of in-patient mental health centres and 24-hour community residences. Combined, these 183 facilities care for more than 3,900 mental health patients and residents across the country.
In the two weeks from New Year’s Eve to Friday, January 15th, the number of mental health facilities that have reported suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 to the MHC increased from 17 to 55; the number of residents with confirmed cases of the virus increased from 15 to 61; and the number of staff members confirmed with the virus increased from 36 to 125.
“We continue to see a significant increase in case numbers across the country, relating to both staff and resident cases,” said the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly. “This is extremely distressing for everyone concerned and we would like to particularly express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the three people who died this week.
“It is concerning to see how the virus has taken hold in our mental health centres again and we must do everything we can now and for the next few weeks to help management and staff decelerate the rise in cases. We will continue to gather data as we have done for the past 10 months, and feed this information to the HSE and DOH, and we will escalate any matters of concern as appropriate.”
Since the start of 2021, we are also monitoring the vaccination roll-out for residents and staff across all services and remains concerned that many centres have still not received a schedule.
“While a number of services have reported some access to vaccination, the majority of services we have been in contact with have not,” said the Director of Regulation for the Mental Health Commission, Gary Kiernan. “Furthermore, most services contacted have not received a vaccination schedule from the HSE and there has been no communication from the HSE to assure staff and residents about how and when this will happen.
“We continue to be concerned about the lack of a roll-out schedule for mental health services, particularly for centres which provide services for residents aged 65 and over in long-stay accommodation. Services need to know when and how they will receive vaccination in accordance with the government’s plan.”
The Commission provided the following metrics to health authorities on Friday, January 15th:
- There were three deaths reported to the MHC during the preceding week relating to three centres. The MHC has now been notified of a total of 21 deaths of residents of mental health services since the commencement of data compilation in April 2020.
- There were 55 services (out of a total of 183) reporting suspected or confirmed cases (compared to 48 the previous week).
- There were 95 suspected or confirmed cases relating to residents (compared to 40 the previous week). 61 of these 95 cases are confirmed (compared to 21 the previous week).
- There were 158 suspected or confirmed cases relating to staff (compared to 96 the previous week). 125 of these 158 cases have been confirmed (compared to 76 the previous week).
You can read our full statement here.