Jan 13, 2022

Short-staffed home care providers call on families to help deliver care

Family called in to help residents

Integratedliving Australia told The Guardian that around 8% of its home care workforce was either infected with COVID-19 or in isolation after being exposed. Last week 6% of their workforce was out.

Integratedliving’s clients have a range of needs and are on commonwealth home support programs, home care packages and recipients of the NDIS.

As the organisation was forced to scale back services, they have been asking family members to take over some duties so staff could be prioritised where they are most needed.

Indra Arunachalam, CEO of Integratedliving, told The Guardian, “We’re having the conversation with clients to delay domestic assistance because we need to divert staff to do the critical issues such as medication support, personal care, nursing, meals and things like that.

“We are concerned that we cannot sustain this level of effort and resourcing to keep our clients and staff safe,” she said.

The organisation has also not been able to find enough rapid antigen tests to alleviate some of the staffing pressure. By contrast, residential aged care providers have been given priority access to commonwealth RAT supplies.

“Given the PCR tests were made available free under Medicare for all Australians, the expectation was that the RATs would follow a similar sort of path,” Arunachalam said.

“It’s really frustrating that there’s been a lack of a consistent national approach that has actually been thought through – and not just for the aged care sector or the health care sector – but in all sectors, when we are all worried in the community.”

Paul Sadler, CEO of the aged care peak body Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), said staff shortages were having an impact on home care providers’ ability to provide “the basic care that older people need”. 

He said difficult choices are having to be made.

“We have aged care homes, we have home care services who are telling us they’ve lost anywhere between five and 30% of their staff. 

“How you’re meant to maintain quality of care for older people when you have a third or more of your staff knocked out is anybody’s guess,” Mr Sadler told The Guardian.

Federal Labor’s shadow minister for senior Australians, Claire O’Neil, said aged care providers are telling her the situation is “genuinely diabolical”.

“I’ve had providers tell me that they’ve been involved in aged care for 40 years and they’ve never seen a situation as bad as it is today, and other providers saying that they wouldn’t be surprised if providers actually left the sector and stopped providing services altogether.”

Ms O’Neil added, “There is an awareness right now that we’re not providing safe care to these frail and vulnerable people and providers don’t want to be in a position to do that.”

Have your home care services been affected by staff shortages? Share your experiences in the comments below or email editor@hellocare.com.au

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  1. My mother is in care in Victoria. Confined to a princess chair and relys on every aspect of her life to be done for her and put in frint of her ,she can feed herself. I constantly ask for drink in a cup with a spout and straw as she spill the drinks in the polystyrene cups used while in lock down. Yes covid has entered the home .
    No regular staff that knows her well and her needs. This make it difficult with someone with short term memory and dementia. Staff are on the run all day and don’t have a min to stop . They are all in PPE they look stunned and tierd .
    They look at me I’m sure thinking what does this woman expect, I feel so much for the presure they are under but I do have to advocate for my mother. Thats my job. I don’t know the way out of this but I do think they should let us in to help with the care till there is a solution .and not everyone can go in as they work or have children to care for. I give the staff in these homes a huge thankyou for the job they are trying to do in such difficult times . But please remember as difficult as I sound I have to do my job to to get basic needs to my mother, drinks glasses on teeth in and wound management looked at.
    Wgat a terrible mess and worrying time we are all in. Please don’t let your hearts turn hard.

    1. Well said it is easy to become slightly bitter in these times thanks you for reminding me of how important my job is.

  2. Staff won’t put themselves and their families at risk of health issues even though they are mostly tripple vaccinated as we all know they can still be vulnerable to catching covid and then spread it.
    Most staff don’t see any real benefits in working in a covid environment so short of staff and having to wear all that necessary but incredibly hot PPE. Showering so many in all the PPE with plastic shields ,masks, gloves and long sleeved aprons is exhausting and staff in the past have felt faint. In saying that. Most staff if following proper health and safety regulations could work without fear if they had more staff on the whole. They are short staffed all the time in aged care from catering to laundry. So until they see Aged Care workers as essential and, valuable to all of us now and into the future, I cannot help but feel pessimistic with the outcome of the sector unless they hire more full-time staff and pay wages that reflect societie’s expectations of great care.

  3. Well there are plenty of healthy unjabbed staff who do not have covid that have been fired from working in aged care. First the flu shot mandate, now the covid jab mandates. Is that duty of care to the clients? Substandard care for overworked staff but it is okay as long as they are all jabbed up to the eyeballs?

    1. I totally agree with you Krissy!
      To push through mandates to force people to have a jab that does not protect people from getting or transmitting covid.
      Let the carers and other unjabbed workers return to care for the elderly. They are skilled and experienced and capable!

  4. There is a simple solution to this staffing crisis! Let the unjabbed work again! The government has their 80-90% jabbed levels. The experienced unjabbed workforce sitting at home with no income might be happy to help! They are healthy and rested and would enter the facilities under the same conditions – temp checks, negative RATs, wear full PPE? This crisis needs to end! There is an answer! Call them back!

  5. I wonder why the medical staff from the Army, Navy and Air Force have not been deployed to assist in thew Aged Care sector. The covid crisis is our current front line


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