A review of Covid-19's impact on nursing homes has recommended that staff employed by such homes should be precluded from working across multiple sites for the duration of the pandemic.

It also says that adequate single-site employment contracts should be put in place to support the measure.

These are among the 86 recommendations in the Expert Panel Report on Covid-19 and nursing homes published today.

The report recommends the Health Information and Quality Authority should carry out more inspections of nursing home premises.

It states that residents should continue to be prioritised for testing with rapid reporting of results.

It also recommends mandatory infection control training for all grades of nursing home staff and that each home should have an emergency supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other Covid-19 related equipment in the event of a cluster.

The report states that all new residents coming from the community or proposed transfers from hospital are tested for Covid-19 prior to admission and that visiting guidelines should be regularly reviewed.

The expert panel was set up following a recommendation by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) earlier this summer.

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Nursing homes have been affected badly during the pandemic.

There are around 30,000 people living in such settings and nearly 20% of them contracted Covid-19.

Representative group Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) said that at its height earlier this year, there were over 250 coronavirus clusters in nursing homes. That number has now reduced to below 40.

The Minister for Older People has said the number of Covid-19 related deaths among nursing homes residents stands at 985.

Mary Butler acknowledged mistakes had been made but she said she did not think that residents had been let down.

She said there had been challenges with PPE supply, staffing numbers and transferring patients from acute hospitals to nursing homes.

Ms Butler said the key was to learn from those mistakes and to ensure that nursing homes are now properly prepared.

One of the report's authors Professor Cecily Kelleher said that systemic reform is needed in the way nursing home care is delivered.