Jun 02, 2021

New report: Company contracted to administer vaccine to aged care residents only – not staff

Aged care senior man mask wheelchair

The revelation comes despite the fact that back in February, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt said vaccinations will be available for aged care staff through an in-reach program in their workplaces. 

At the time Hunt said, “Vaccination for residents and staff will be made available through residential aged care facilities where they live or work, and it will be administered through an in-reach workforce provider.”

In the same statement, the Minister for Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck said the federal government would be responsible for leading the implementation of the vaccination program in aged care.

“The responsibilities are clearly delineated so all parties understand their role in this critical and complex program,” Colbeck said.

“In the coming weeks, the vaccination program will reach more than 2,600 residential aged care facilities, more than 183,000 residents and 339,000 staff,” the statement said.

And now a spokesperson for Aspen Medical, Eamonn Quinn, said their company was only ever asked to administer the vaccination to aged care workers when doses were left over after all residents had been vaccinated, according to a report in The Age.

He said Aspen has only ever been contracted to administer the vaccination to residents, not staff.

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck told HelloCare the priority was always to vaccinate residents first “as they are at higher risk”.

“Based on medical advice, it was determined a risk to vaccinate all staff at the same time in case there were adverse reactions leaving facilities short of staff,” the minister said.

He added that the government would like to see as many members of the aged care workforce vaccinated as soon as possible.

Colbeck said the rollout had to be “reset” after health advice discouraging vaccinating residents and staff at the same time, and about giving AstraZeneca to people under 50.

Since then, the government has worked with states and territories to open as many avenues to access a vaccine as possible, including GP clinics, Commonwealth respiratory clinics, state-run AstraZeneca and Pfizer clinics, on-site provider clinics and 50 roving clinics in Victoria.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said, “The Morrison government must come clean about their private aged care vaccination contracts – did they ask them to vaccinate staff?”

“Don’t blame staff for not being vaccinated when you never told them you had no intention to vaccinate them at their workplace,” she said.

“The royal commission revealed the private aged care system was in crisis before the pandemic, Australia needs an aged care minister who will never be comfortable until residents and staff are properly protected from COVID-19.”

Fitzpatrick called on Senator Colbeck to resign.

“We need a minister who gets things done with a sense of urgency, care and respect for the residents and the dedicated staff.

“The Morrison Government has abandoned Victoria’s private aged care nurses and personal care workers.”

In Victoria, Health Care Australia is also administering vaccines, with a government contract to the tune of $30 million. The Aspen Medical contract is worth $25 million. 

The focus on vaccinations in Victoria’s aged care homes comes after an aged care worker who worked at both Arcare Maidstone and BlueCross Western Gardens in Sunshine tested positive to COVID-19.

The state’s outbreak has now affected five aged care homes.

Last year, the federal government required aged care workers to only work at one home, but the rule was abandoned in November, only to be reinstated last week.

Almost 2,000 aged care residents contracted COVID-19 last year during Victoria’s devastating second wave and 655 died.

Residents at all of Victoria’s 596 aged care homes have now had their first vaccine, and residents in 382 homes have received their second jab.

HelloCare contacted Senator Colbeck for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publishing.

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  1. Aged Care staff are being forced to work unsafe shift configurations like afternoon followed by night shift due to a lack of staff. Other staff are working at many different worksites to try and earn a living. Most of the staff appear to be on visas. Prior to the lockdown (s) I would see staff come out of the nursing home at the end of our street, sleep in their car and then go back in for another shift. Aged Care staffing is in a race to the bottom. Double shifts, short shifts, multi-site shifts, etc. THIS IS INSECURE WORK and these workers due to their workloads and visa status are very vulnerable. What is the Victorian Government doing about this ? Answer: not much. What is the Federal Government doing about this ? Answer: nothing at all. If you want safe care you have to have safe work. Safe work does not mean Labour Hire set up to minimise/avoid safeguards in legislation and EBAs. Safe work means that on every level of the working relationship from pay and workloads to vaccinations and training there are clear expectations and resources to meet those expectations. If you want minimum standards of care you have to comply with minimum standards of employment. If you set up your employment arrangements in order to dodge safe, fair work do not expect support from your staff or the community you serve. It is as simple as that. Nursing homes and in particular the corporate chains receive large amounts of public funding. In other words these businesses have an economic and a social contract. Socialising loss by rationing care and then privatising profit is a breach of this social contract.

    1. Well said Gian, wouldn’t it be a great idea,to give Nurses & Care Workers a cash bonus, say $200 when they have their vaccine jab.

  2. At the Nursing Home my MIL is in they had 9 leftover vaccines on the day so they were offered to staff. I think the Covid vaccine should be manatory for staff, just like the flu vaccine is & staff should want to be vaccinated. Surely it would be a lot easier to have staff & residents vaccinated at the same time, no brainer in my eyes. I have had my flu & 1st Covid vaccine with my 2nd booked in

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