The aged care sector is coping “extremely well” – do you agree with these claims?

Poll - coping extremely well

There have been nearly 550 deaths in aged care this year alone as the Omicron strain has taken hold in more than 1,000 aged care homes.

Yet the government has continued to defend its management of the crisis, with the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, on 2 February saying aged care is performing “extremely well” despite the Omicron outbreak. 

He said in 2020 there were 28,000 COVID-19 cases in Australia, of which 2,051 were in aged care – 7.2% of total cases. But of the 1.8 million COVID-19 cases as of 2 February, only 10,500, or only 0.58%, were in aged care.

Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) Chief Executive Officer, Sean Rooney told The Guardian that aged care staff and management have done “extremely well”, and it’s “absolutely appropriate to acknowledge this whenever we talk about the current situation”.

“And there is no doubt that there would have been fewer cases and fewer deaths if we had had enough RATs for daily screening of everyone, access to PCR tests where needed, access to surge workforce as promised, and reliable access to PPE.”

The Minister’s claim also did not line up with the votes and comments we received from HelloCare readers and members of our Aged Care Worker Support Group on Facebook. 

So, we put the question to those on the frontline in aged care –  members of the support group, who are exclusively aged care workers, and our LinkedIn followers, who largely represent aged care management.

HelloCare asked: Do you agree with the Morrison government that the aged care sector is coping “extremely well”?

At the time of writing, we received nearly 600 votes, with 97% telling us they ‘strongly disagree’ with the statement the aged care sector is doing “extremely well”.

Only 3% said they ‘agree’.

She said staff were in tears and they’ve lodged a complaint with the regulator.

Many said it might be helpful if politicians spent time ‘on the floor’ to witness first-hand the challenges aged care workers face on a daily basis.

They left comments noting staff shortages in all sectors of operation – care, laundry, kitchen, maintenance, a lack of PPE, higher costs, mandated vaccinations, a lack of mental health support, and low pay as reasons the sector was doing far from well.

Several noted that nothing has improved since the royal commission.

Many also referenced the Minister’s attendance at the cricket instead of fronting up to a senate inquiry into the government’s handling of COVID-19.

Earlier this week, Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced the government would send 1,700 defence troops into aged care homes, suggesting the government was awake to the serious problems in the sector.

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  1. I work in a 90 bed facility in Geelong. Our residents are doing ok but our workforce is at breaking point. Everyone is working extra hours, we get messages daily asking us to do more and every shift is well short of staff. We are all but killing our selves to get through all our tasks and spending a lot of unpaid time completing required paperwork. I know of at least 10 people who have quit as they can no longer handle the stress and/or workload and if I’m really honest the thought has crossed my mind, but I love my job and the guilt would ruin me.
    We need help, if we don’t get help soon we will have a whole new “pandemic “ of a complete breakdown of an entire sectors workforce.
    This job was already ridiculously challenging pre-Covid. Now it’s downright demoralizing

  2. The aged care sector is at a point where the inability to attract and retain staff is at a critical point. Across the sector staff at all levels have given far more than they should have to have done. They are tired and emotionally at breaking point. The media reporting of the number of deaths in aged care is not helpful, and in fact has a connotation of blame about it. It is framed in such a way that it implies the death rate in aged care is attributable to either neglect or incompetence by staff. The reality is that residents in aged care are our nations most infirm and debilitated people, that is why they are in care. They they die from exposure to coronavirus is not unexpected given their often frequent co-morbidities. We should acknowledge that but for the sacrifices and work of the staff the number of deaths may have been far greater than it has been. The industry, and our staff, need actual support not rhetoric.

  3. Sending in the army will not sort the staffing issues out or benefit Aged care in the long run. The Aged Care I work at is constantly running on agency staff or our staff working double shifts hence the staff are starting to get run down and tied.
    Also when the PM stated aged care staff would get $800.00 paid in 2 installments. I am sure it did not say on prorated hours worked as the Health department has issued in a statement released on the 9th February.

  4. Workers in aged care are not doing well not enough staff not enough funding the company I work for had to pay for there own PPE that money could be used for extra staff and doing nice things for our residents staff are just leaving they have had enough not only the work load, but emotional we are not coping seeing residents so sad that they can’t have there family there or can’t go on bus trips or if there is activities it is very limited sad enough they don’t have there family but we can’t even be there we are so busy trying to get our own work done the government should be a shame these beautiful people deserve so much more I could probably write pages about aged care and how bad and sad it is and in saying that the staff that works in aged care are truly doing a outstanding job

  5. Prior to the Aged Care Royal Commission all and sundry (including previous Federal Government Aged Care Ministers) should have been aware of the dire circumstances in Residential Aged Care.
    The Government agency charged with the responsibility to ensure quality and safe care in facilities FAILED the vulnerable as did the so called – providers.
    Nothing has changed.
    After the RC and prior to Covid the government response focused on splashing some cash with little effect – result = rock / hard place.
    COVID has sadly had a devastating effect on all our loved ones.
    We have lost far too many and those remaining suffer in more ways than one.
    Going forward, unfortunately, all those responsible will take full advantage of the ‘Covid situation’ to substantiate the disgraceful and pathetic conditions that still remain and continue (night and day) in RACF’s.
    Another splash of cash for certain staff is once again another desperate effort.

    I strongly disagree that the residential aged care sector is managing ‘extremely well’ with or without Covid conditions.

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