Jan 12, 2022

Morrison Government must do more to protect residents and staff

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As the Omicron variant runs rampant through the country’s aged care facilities, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has expressed its concern that the Morrison Government has no real plan to protect vulnerable nursing home residents and staff during the pandemic.

With almost 1,400 residents and just over 1,800 staff currently classified as active cases, the ANMF is concerned that hundreds of private aged care facilities are still waiting for booster vaccinations and rapid antigen tests (RATs).

Dangerously low staffing levels are leading to missed care. This was all preventable if there was proper planning. Our ANMF members are reporting only three staff for up to 120 residents in some cases.

This is seriously unsafe and entirely unacceptable.

“With Omicron spreading so rapidly throughout the community, our frontline nurses and carers are completely exhausted and burnt out, they’ve been crying out for help, but yet again, the Morrison Government has abandoned aged care residents and staff,” ANMF Acting Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp, said today.

“We’re dismayed that despite the tragedies in aged care during previous outbreaks, the Government has decided to stand back and ‘let it rip’, without securing proper supplies of vital booster shots, RATs and personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing homes. The Morrison Government should have been more prepared. It’s like nothing has been learnt from the second wave in 2020, when tragically, 678 lives were lost.”

“Sadly, it’s apparent that nursing homes aren’t prepared for the Omicron wave, even though back in August, Minister Hunt declared that RATs would be available in aged care facilities.”

“As we know, RAT, in particular, is a useful tool in risk control and the lack of RATs is resulting in chronic staff shortages and putting nurses, carers, and the elderly residents they care for, at further risk of contracting COVID-19 and missing out on urgently needed care regardless of COVID-19 status,” Ms Sharp said.

“We’re urging the Morrison Government to act as a matter of urgency and ensure that aged care residents and staff get the protection they so desperately need in the face of this latest COVID-19 wave. Staff, residents, and their families deserve so much more.”

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  1. Total lockdown for residents in aged care facilities is certainly not helping with staff shortages and resident safety.
    Many residents were getting at least one hour a day of assistance and social interaction from close family members and friends.
    Surely visitation can be arranged for visitors who can provide a recent negative RAT.
    Staff are caring for residents in full PPE which is a huge communication barrier and spend very limited time with each resident.
    I know there are many residents who are eligible for booster shots and have not been identified as “priority”.
    Please give us access to RATs and let us visit our loved ones.

  2. My husband is in Aged Care. Maybe ,for whatever reason, we are lucky, as the Facility he is in are Testing every resident often, and every visitor before they are allowed to see the loved ones. The staff is doing an amazing job, they are doing extra shifts and coping the best way they can. There is a huge shortage of staff, due to COVID and isolations. We cannot get staff to fill the gaps as there are no overseas students coming into the country and very few, if any, of our young people want to do this job.
    The work is very hard and the pay very poor. No incentive to work in Aged Care.

  3. Let the nearest and dearest in under strict protection rules ,This isolation for the residents is more damaging and harmful than it is for actual prisoners under interigation. JUST PUT YOURSELV ES IN THEIR PLACE where they resent being any way. Of course to add to the issues there are still war veterans amongst them.

  4. In the current environment of high case numbers and transmissibility in the community the best protection for aged care is the wearing of N95 masks and face shields or goggles by staff. Secondarily the wearing of masks by visitors and then frequent use of rapid antigen testing of staff and visitors, then residents. Our facilities have been using the above PPE strategy for staff and this has significantly reduced the risk of, and actual, infection of residents. Despite having in excess of 40 staff having tested positive since the beginning of December. It also reduces transmission of staff to staff, and residents to staff.

  5. Absolutely agree. The government should have been prepared for this. Staffing levels were inadequate before Covid hit nursing homes in Qld. Staff are exhausted working 8 hr shifts in full PPE and the residents are unable to go out. This is prison, not aged care.

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