Mar 20, 2020

Aged care worker lied about overseas travel

An aged care worker in Tasmania failed to tell her employer she went overseas, and returned to work caring for older people in their homes.

The woman has been accused of putting older people at risk of contracting coronavirus, working for a week before her employer was alerted to her travel.

The woman travelled to Thailand for a week in early March, arriving back in Australia before the government announced the compulsory self-quarantine for all overseas travellers.

The woman hadn’t felt unwell, according to a report by the ABC, and had told her employer she was travelling to Melbourne.

Authorities don’t know how many home care clients the woman came into contact with.

Bans imposed after return

As the woman did not breach any of the government’s compulsory measures, she will not face charges, according to the ABC report.

On 15 March 2020 the government required all people returning from overseas to self-isolate for 14 days.

Earlier self-isolation rules only applied to people returning from Italy, Iran, South Korea and China.

And on 18 March, the government banned anyone who has been overseas in the last 14 days from entering an aged care facility.

Tough restrictions placed on aged care

Since 18 March, the federal government has placed particularly heavy restrictions on aged care in an attempt to protect those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus – the elderly.

As mentioned above, visitors and staff will not be permitted to enter an aged care facility if they have been overseas in the last 14 days.

Other restrictions include banning anyone with a fever from aged care facilities, or, as of 1 May 2020, banning anyone who has not been vaccinated for the flu. 

Aged care providers are also required to keep visits short and to a maximum of two per resident per day, and to ban large groups and children from visiting. A number of other restrictions apply.

Majority of aged care staff will put residents first

The very large majority of aged care providers and staff are doing absolutely everything they can to protect elderly people during this very difficult coronavirus pandemic. 

They will be honest about their circumstances and they will do their utmost to comply with the government’s restrictions – no matter how difficult or inconvenient. Many casual aged care workers will forgo income to comply, putting the health and wellbeing of the residents well above their own, and even those of their own family. Every day they will continue to do the best they can for the residents in any way they can.

But unfortunately there will always be a small number who don’t comply, who put themselves first rather than the older people they care for, never thinking or caring for the consequences.

HelloCare reached out to the Department of Health for this article but at the time of publishing had not received a response.

Image: shapecharge, iStock. Model is posed. Stock image.

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  1. The key aspect of this story seems to be that the worker knew she should have declared her visit to Thailand, otherwise lying to her employer by saying she went to Melbourne makes no sense.

    If the employer was serious about this issue they would find a way to discipline this employee and ensure the rest of the Aged Care sector knows who she is so they do not employ her.

    If the employer fails to act they deserve a visit by a number of good investigative journalists. If an employer cannot see the seriousness of this incident it is really really concerning.

    Why is the employer not named in this article ?

    Some will think that’s a bit harsh, however there can be no tolerance for lying about incidents that may place clients at risk, and no tolerance for employers who continue to think that any conduct is acceptable provided they do not lose staff.

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