Jan 31, 2022

Data reveals stark numbers: 1 in 3 COVID deaths occurred in aged care

Aged care COVID deaths

7News reports that since December 31, 2021, 415 deaths have been reported by aged care facilities to the federal government, 207 occurring in NSW and 84 in QLD.

As of Thursday last week, the latest assessment of the data showed that in SA, 68 deaths have been reported in care homes, while 57 people have died in Victorian facilities.

In total, for the first 27 days of 2022, 1,160 deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded across the nation.

Looking further into the data surrounding aged care outbreaks, over half of aged care homes in NSW have recorded an Omicron outbreak. Fifty-eight facilities have stated that at least one of their recorded deaths was due to COVID-19.

According to advocate Sarah Russell, who has been tracking the Omicron outbreaks numbers closely, as of January 21, 2022 there were 1,198 aged care homes in Australia experiencing a COVID outbreak.

Professor Sarah Holland-Batt further highlighted a concerning set of data – 40% of facilities have received no boosters, with over 11,000 staff currently testing positive with COVID-19. 

Of the 31 aged care residents who died in the last reporting period, just two had received a booster dose.

Additionally, the news that Minister for Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck abstained from appearing before the Senate COVID Committee to instead be present at the cricket has many still reeling. 

But problems have not been limited to small providers. 

Around half of ASX-listed Estia Health’s facilities across QLD, NSW, SA and VIC have gone through outbreaks recently – 10 people have died and 837 cases have been reported in residents and staff. The home most significantly impacted is located in southwestern Sydney. 

Bupa has seen 1.075 cases throughout its 41 facilities.

Leading Aged Care Services Australia (LASA) has weighed in saying aged care providers were experiencing “extreme pressure” and calling out government support for falling short.

Chief executive Sean Rooney spoke to the AAP on Friday and stated, “At the start of this pandemic, we said it should be a national priority to do all we can to keep those people who are most vulnerable – older Australians in aged care homes and the staff that care for them – safe.”      

Continuing he commented, “Services are in this really difficult place where they’re trying to keep people safe through all the prevention and protection measures but we also know we can’t just lock people up.”

A sign of deepening distress, a coalition of aged care providers and unions recently made a unified call for defence force personnel to assist with emergency support and aid to nursing homes, as well as increased payments for burnt out frontline staff.

The federal government has outlined its initiative of providing rapid antigen tests to aged care residences since last August, stating a total of 6.7 million kits have been delivered at the most recent assessment.

Additionally, close to 90 million pieces of PPE have been provided from the National Medical Stockpile since the onset of the pandemic. 

Further data highlights how workforce surge staff have had to fill 77,103 shifts in aged care services that were affected by COVID-19 absences.

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