May 31, 2021

BREAKING: Morrison government’s shocking decision that could have fatal impact on Victorian outbreak

Face mask on ground

Now, this shocking decision could have fatal consequences on how severe the COVID-19 outbreak gets in Victoria.

It was reported today that a member of staff at Arcare’s Maidstone aged care facility tested positive with coronavirus, after having worked at the Blue Cross aged care site in Sunshine.

Furthermore, three of the new local cases have been traced back to private residential aged care.

An aged care worker’s son became infected after they tested positive from Arcare Maidstone, as well as a resident who is in her 90s at the same facility, plus the member of staff who worked at Arcare Maidstone and Blue Cross Sunshine.

In Victorian public aged care homes, which are managed by the Victorian government, staff are not permitted to work across multiple sites.

However, the Morrison government – which is responsible for managing private residential aged care facilities, lifted the ban on staff working at more than one site, after lifting an incentive scheme introduced to private aged care during 2020 following the death of 655 Victorian aged care residents.

The scheme that was implemented resulted in aged care workers getting paid more to compensate for the fact they were banned from working at more than one facility.

Shockingly, this was discreetly overturned on November 30, and only just reinstated last week, as the outbreak in Melbourne steadily worsened.

Scott Morrison should be held accountable 

The Prime Minister has endangered private aged care residents and should be held accountable, said Shadow Minister for Health, Mark Butler.

“This latest outbreak in aged care is a direct result of Scott Morrison’s gross negligence and dangerous complacency,” he candidly told reporters.

“The government needs to explain why they thought the risk had receded to such a degree that it was able to lift the ban that was in place last year.”

News.com.au reported that private residential aged care workers were advised via email on Monday that they “should limit their work to a single facility”.

Acting Premier James Merlino agreed that the Prime Minister should  be forced to explain why he lifted the ban and allowed staff to work at a number of private residential aged care homes, when the risk of infection for elderly residents is so high.

“Public sector aged care [is a] state responsibility … we have clear policies in place that has made sure workers don’t work across sites.

“Private sector aged care is a Federal Government responsibility, these are absolutely relevant questions everyone is asking, they should be put to the Federal Government,” Merlino added.

Professor Brett Sutton, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, stressed that aged care staff working at more than one facility should be avoided at all costs.

“It is a risk wherever it occurs, it doesn’t matter if it is public or private … but the question as to how it is effectively enforced, supported financially or otherwise in terms of policy, is a question for the Commonwealth,” Professor Sutton explained.

“It is not a question for me. It is a risk wherever it occurs. There needs to be support and policy settings to minimise that to the fullest extent possible. I understand that some settings will have critical workforce issues, people can’t move between settings.”

Health Minister Martin Foley was also upfront and frank on his views of the shocking situation the Morrison Government has created.

“Covid-19 cases are back in our residential private aged care system and that is not a good thing,” Foley stated.

“I don’t have to remind people in Victoria and Australia, the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has on fatalities and private potential, in residential aged care settings.”

 

What do you think about the Morrison government overturning the rule on November 30, permitting staff to work at more than one private residential aged care facility in Victoria? Tell us in the comments. 

 

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  1. Genomic sequencing must be established to follow the introduction of Covid into these nursing homes. The facts available at the moment do not show how staff working at the two homes mentioned (only) contracted Covid.

  2. It was never mandated rather strongly advised for NGOs. If the government funded wages better, workers wouldn’t have to work across multiple employers. Hard for employers though to limit workers to one service/site. Flexibility for employers is crucial.

  3. There is nothing surprising about this. It is like privatising the energy networks and then wondering why quality goes down and price goes up. If you want social outcomes they have to be factored into the business model. The Morrison government clearly feels that older Australians are not worth much and a level of mortality and morbidity is okay as long as the dividends keep rolling in. They apply the same principle to the unemployed and other groups who are seen as less deserving of support. When you vote Liberal this is what you get. If you are okay accepting the franked dividends and you don’t think too much it almost seems plausible in a perverse kind of way.

  4. This is not about any recent decision this has been goung in for years and it is solely about the poor rostering in nursing homes. This is all about the false economy of trying to save money which in fact has the opposite effect.
    If rostering in nursing homes was carried out as it should be none of this would hsve happened.

  5. There are many (lots) of nurses working in both state run hospitals and aged care facilities, all level of health departments and government have been turning a blind eye to this even during last Victorian pandemic. Many well run aged care (private) have been trying to enforce one site employees but staff don’t have any obligation to tell truth, several RN’s in this category. A major Vaccination issue in aged care ( private) is the 12 weeks between vaccinations and the need to get residents and or there family’s to sign a write for them to get vaccinated and sorry but a lot are either anti or just afraid of all the negative stories hyped up and promoted by the media, remember these residents have their own rights and can refuse the vaccination like all staff. Only flu vaccination is compulsory for staff and visitors not residents. What is needed is state and federal government, health departments and unions to take a common workable approach instead of bloody minded point scoring to the detriment of ALL.

    1. Quite correct James. The RC did not bring down recommendations for one side of politics only. Conciliation for all political parties and age care providers both state and federal is required. There is so much at stake here moving into a post pandemic future that partisan ideology should be carefully reviewed at a personal level, and possibly restrained for the good of all.

  6. Unfortunately this Government and the senior managers in Aged Care regulation are captive to Private Aged Care Lobbyists.

    They simply do not get it !

    We are in a Pandemic. People die, lives are shattered, livelihoods are shattered.

    It is time for this Government and Aged Care Regulators to focus on protecting people rather than the financial interests of private Aged Care Providers.

    Cut the BS and do your job !

  7. I hope people will remember this when they next vote in a federal election and isn’t this the government who tells us that hotel quarantine is 99.9 % safe!

  8. This is appalling. AND that it was covered up. Also considering some residential aged care homes have only just been able to get their residents vaccinated with their first dose (and probably other homes are not even done yet). My mum was vaccinated with her first dose only on 21 May 2021 at her aged care home. The Primary Health Network (Commonwealth funded organisations) coordinated the vaccine rollout to aged care centres in their catchment and it is taking this long to do it!! And now we find out this has happened with staff. It just shows how much the Government cares about our aged care community, and the staff working at these homes. Not to mention the repercussions of COVID restrictions on resident visits that have been in place for a year. This is the resident’s home, but close family are still very limited to visiting to only when it is convenient for aged care staff, even after all this time. We can’t visit when our family member needs support when they need it. We can’t drop in and keep an eye on things at unexpected times, so who knows what is actually happening inside these aged care homes. Had the vaccine rollout been timely for aged care homes, the workers been vaccinated and staff limited to working at one facility, maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation. So now with this situation and the lockdown it will be even longer before we can visit our loved ones when they want us, and when we want to visit them.

  9. I think the government is some what responsible for this outbreak . There is a drug available in the states called Ivermectin and it should be used if someone becomes quite ill with covid, It has been used in America and in nearly all cases the patient responses to this drug have been good. So no need for anyone to die from this covid. Get on top of of ill people before they get to sick. Also some people can not tolerate the vaccine . My niece is not having it as she has severe allergies.

  10. This failure again is the state governments fractured contact tracing system which is unique to Victoria.
    Go back to November 2020 and remember why this decision was overturned. The providers were short staffed, care workers working for the same provider had the flexibility to move from facility to facility, this practice was successful until this community blunder brought infection into the aged care facilities, again.

  11. Really.???? Why did he do this?? My god, how irresponsible. This news shocked and horrified me. An explanation is required, and even then that wouldn’t cut it. Scott Morrison seems to have lost it. No regard for our vulnerable in aged care. Unforgivable.

  12. It is a work force issue. Without a pool of ‘part time’ workers to call on, and a worker calls in sick or goes on leave who works that shift? In order to run a facility the employer has little option than to only offer staff 5 – 8 shifts per fortnight and hope that these staff ‘pick up’ extras. Even then a large number of employees don’t want to pick up extra shifts as it affects their benefits. 5 – 8 shifts per fortnight means that the employees that want extra work/money, and not access benefits, have to work 2 jobs. If the employer has to pay overtime that’s not included in the funding! If an agency worker is required, that personal career/A.I.N ends up costing the employer up to $70.00 per hour! That’s not included in the funding! (And agency workers by the very nature of the job have to work across multiple facilities.)
    Solution? If vaccinations are a major part of the answer, mandate them for all staff, visitors, and residents! Fund the sector so that the existing workforce can earn a proper wage. Include an allowance for overtime in the funding. Limit the number of facilities that an employee can work at to two.
    Some roles can sometimes be covered without extra staff, like the receptionist or gardener for a few days. If 3 nursing and 2 catering shifts need filling on the same day, they have to be filled. Where do the staff come from if no one wants to work those shifts?

  13. It was certainly not a smart decision by Scott Morrison and the bureaucrats who would possibly have been the ones recommending it. I would also like to know why the worker involved was apparently not vaccinated? I believe she was away when the other workers were vaccinated but was then still allowed to work unvaccinated when she returned. Who is supposed to follow up on these cases that fall through the cracks? Someone obviously slipped up here.

  14. I have worked in private and government run and found staff having up to 3 different positions and also working in the community

  15. it’s because the private sector has the government in their pocket now they are so huge and so much in control of the residential aged care business. The government alone has allowed this to happen and now they cant control it.

  16. There continues to be the belief that aged care workers work in more than one venue because they can’t get a proper roster. In many cases the problem is simply the 38 hour week. Many overseas nursing,cleaning, kitchen, laundry etc staff are working at more than one venue simply because they can. Aussie staff are content to have one job but others like the extra money and they think that 38 hours is only half a week’s work.
    They are within their rights to work in multiple locations,earn money and more often than not they send much of that home to their needy families.
    It’s nothing to do with politics, covid,public or private facilities…it’s their culture of responsibility which we have sadly lost.

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