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Minister for Mental Health and Older People continues to drive forward the reform of care for older people

Minister for Mental Health and Older People continues to drive forward the reform of care for older people

  • Minister Mary Butler hosts roundtable discussion on the implementation of the Nursing Homes Expert Panel Recommendations
  • key progress made in enhancing nursing home care as the implementation of recommendations continues

The Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, today welcomed former members of the Nursing Homes Expert Panel and its Implementation and Reference Groups to a roundtable discussion on the continuing implementation of the 2020 Expert Panel report recommendations.

Minister Butler convened the roundtable to provide an update on implementation progress and to seek stakeholder views on how further progress can be made. Learnings from the event will support the Department of Health to continue to progress the recommendations.

Representatives from the Department of Health, Health Service Executive (HSE), Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), nursing home providers, advocacy groups, HSE clinicians and the former members of the Expert Panel took part in the roundtable.

The roundtable highlighted what has been achieved since the publication of the Expert Panel report in August 2020, both in terms of the pandemic response and wider reform of the nursing home sector. Significant progress has been made to date, with 53 of the 86 recommendations now considered complete or mainstreamed into normal operations. A range of further initiatives and workstreams are ongoing to progress the remaining recommendations.

Minister Butler said:

"The Expert Panel report was a landmark document. It was instrumental in supporting the pandemic response in nursing homes and it has provided a guiding framework for a wider reform programme across the sector. Today’s roundtable discussion provides an ideal forum to refocus attention on the programme of reform set out in the Expert Panel’s report."

Minister Butler continued:

"There has been consensus today on the important progress that has already been made in delivering on the Expert Panel recommendations. Equally, there has been consensus on the need to continue progress to enhance clinical governance and better integrate private and voluntary nursing homes within the broader health service. The feedback received today will help inform my department’s continuing programme of work in this area.

"I welcome the commitment expressed today by everyone to improving the lives of nursing home residents across public, private, and voluntary nursing homes. Pro-active and positive inter-agency collaboration and stakeholder engagement has been a key feature of the reform process to date. This must continue to be the cornerstone of our collective response to ensure that we successfully deliver an enhanced system of care for older people living in nursing homes."

Significant progress has been made on the programme of reform for nursing homes including:

  • the extension and rollout of Patient Advocacy Services to private nursing homes from 1 November 2022
  • enhancements to the nursing home regulatory framework including the publication of a General Scheme of a Bill in October 2022 to give HIQA, the regulator, further powers in relation to enforcement and data collection
  • work continues to advance on the development of a Safe Staffing and Skillmix Framework for the sector
  • a palliative and end-of-life programme for nursing homes was launched in 2022
  • the establishment of dedicated Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Safeguarding staff for nursing homes across the nine Community Health Organisations (CHOs)
  • commencement of recruitment for Community Support Teams that will continue to provide support to public and private nursing homes
  • Independent Commission on Care for Older Persons to be established in January 2024, to examine the provision of health and social care services and support for older people and make recommendations to the government for their strategic development

Minister Butler continued:

"I would like to sincerely thank members of the stakeholder group for their participation in this event and commend them for their ongoing engagement and valued contribution. With my officials, I am committed to continuing to work with the HSE, HIQA and stakeholders in further delivering on this crucially important and extensive programme of work."


On 19 August 2020, the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel Report was published. The report contained a range of recommendations in line with lessons learned to date and international best practice, aimed at safeguarding the residents in nursing homes.

On the 21 June 2022, the Fourth COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel Report was published. The progress report set out the progress achieved across the 86 recommendations in the Nursing Homes Expert Panel’s report and outlined the plans and structures in place to continue implementation along with details of the next steps and timelines.