Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has said care home staff who become unwell with COVID-19 should be protected and supported.
The local health spokesperson said:
“Currently many care homes are only offering Statutory Sick Pay to staff who have contracted COVID-19 in the course of their work. This is not acceptable.
“Care home staff are working hard in difficult conditions to protect residents from COVID-19. In some cases, care home staff are working alongside Health Trust staff, who if they become ill will be entitled to full pay.
“Care homes are in the front line in combatting COVID-19. Recent NISRA statistics highlighted that over 40% of all deaths are occurring within care homes. Staff working in care homes deserve the respect and protections afforded to other health and social care staff.
“Sinn Féin submitted a range of constructive suggestions to the Health Minister to consider in tackling COVID-19 but we have yet to receive a response from the Minister.
“Social Care reform needs addressed. My party colleague Colm Gildernew raised this issue directly with Department of Health officials briefing the health committee on the Department’s budget. The Department must bring forward a true cost of care analysis to inform and set out exactly what it costs to provide care, including paying staff a living wage.
“For many working in private social care during COVID-19, they have been left feeling abandoned and ignored. They need to be fully recognised as part of the Health and Social Care family, including receiving equal levels of pay and protection.
“No member of staff should be disadvantaged as a result of contracting Covid-19 in the course of carrying out their caring role.”