HelloCare has become aware that members of our Aged Care Worker Support Group are receiving letters from their employers ending their employment because the worker failed to get their first COVID-19 vaccination by the September 17 cut-off date in NSW.
However, the legislation varies from state to state.
In NSW, if a worker did not receive their first COVID-19 vaccination by September 17, then the Public Health Order directs that “the person cannot enter or remain at a residential aged care facility”.
In Victoria, staff have until September 30 to receive their first jab.
Information from the Victorian Department of Health Services states, “From 1 October 2021, it is intended that all workers at residential aged care facilities will be required to have received at least a partial COVID-19 vaccination, and from that date will not be permitted to enter a work premises if they have not received at least a partial COVID-19 vaccination, subject to limited exceptions.”
Victorian aged care workers will be required to have had both jabs by November 15, 2021.
Angelika Koplin, Principal Consultant, Aged Care Strategies and Support, told HelloCare aged care providers must comply with the state and federal regulations.
“They have no choice in the matter,” she said.
Providers ask staff forego holidays, work more hours
According to sources, 98% of aged care workers in Australia have received their first vaccine dose, and nearly 80% of the workforce is fully vaccinated.
As many as 2,000 aged care workers did not meet the mandatory deadline.
Providers are filling staffing gaps by adjusting rosters, for example, by asking part-time workers to work more hours and not allowing people to take holidays.
Allambie Heights Village Chief Executive Officer, Ciarán Foley, told HelloCare the numbers leaving the sector were not as great as some feared. “The mass exodus people expected has not occurred,” he said.
All Allambie Heights staff have been fully vaccinated since September 13, with communication the key to getting everyone on board, Foley said.
“Communication is so important to taking people with you, providing access to information and listening to people’s concerns.”
Foley said at Allambie, staff did not so much experience “hesitancy” about getting vaccinated as “confusion”, especially back in March when there were mixed messages about the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In response, Allambie provided staff with simple information, especially those from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Camaraderie and a supportive culture also meant staff could reassure one another, Foley said.
The last two years have required “sacrifice” and “hard yards”, and now it is up to everyone to do the right thing and get vaccinated, he said.
Rooney said LASA would now like to see home care staff “encouraged and enabled” to be vaccinated “as soon as possible”.
“Home care staff are the next frontline that should have been among those in the high priority group to be vaccinated first, announced by the government back in February,” he added.