The peak bodies for aged care providers Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) have congratulated the Queensland Government on adopting procedures that facilitate the transfer to hospital of residents diagnosed with coronavirus in aged care, and urged all states to follow Queensland’s lead.
The Royal Commission heard yesterday that NSW authorities had not transferred COVID-19 positive aged care residents to hospitals because they wanted to avoid setting a precedent .
“It’s not about precedent, it’s about saving people’s lives,” ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said.
“Immediate transfer to the hospital of the first people in residential care diagnosed with COVID, is the best possible protection measure against the terrible tragedy we are seeing unfold in Victoria.
“Transfer to hospital provides the best treatment for individuals and the best chance to contain the spread of the virus in an aged care home as the Royal Commission heard yesterday based on the experience of Dorothy Henderson Lodge,” she said.
“Queensland has now joined South Australia in adopting this best practise principle putting it in a much better position to prevent spread of the virus within an aged care home.”
Sean Rooney, CEO of LASA, echoed similar sentiments in his statement released earlier today.
“South Australia has led the way and we commend Queensland for adopting this humane and protective policy which lifts confidence in the care of the most vulnerable to coronavirus.
“We also welcome Queensland Health’s close and continuing consultation with peak aged care organisations and providers, to help ensure the practical application of transfers of the first resident or residents infected with COVID-19 out of residential care.”
Both bodies recognise that community transmission poses the highest risk to the aged care community, and position this move as one of the most sensible, calling for for other states and territories to follow suit.
“With COVID-19 community spread the greatest risk for aged care homes, moving cases out of residential care is totally focused on saving lives,” said Mr Rooney.
“Older Australians must have the same right to access hospital care as any other person in the community, particularly given they are a higher‐risk due to their age and underlying health concerns.
“This needs to be one of the measures adopted by all states, to make keeping older Australians in care safe from coronavirus a national priority.”
“Community transmission is the enemy of aged care,” Ms Sparrow said. “Once a single case gets into a facility it can be impossible to contain. This is because aged care homes are not hospitals. They aren’t staffed like hospitals. They are not funded like hospitals. They are homes.
“It’s time that all states and territories joined South Australia and Queensland in adopting this best possible scenario for protecting older people in aged care and containing outbreaks.”