Following a number of coronavirus deaths linked to aged care homes in Victoria, age services are going public with major concerns about gaps in government coronavirus supports – including PPE, staffing, transfers and testing.

“Despite positive recent announcements, there are major issues with the delivery of these measures and other important issues such as the transfer of COVID positive residents have not been adequately addressed,” LASA’s Acting Chief Advocate Tim Hicks said.

“Providers are frustrated that they seem to have to work off media statements from governments rather than practical help in the deadly battle with COVID-19.

“Almost two weeks ago the Government promised millions of masks to aged care providers to help them keep their residents safe.

“Despite this many providers report being turned away because they do not have outbreaks, and even services with confirmed cases are reporting unacceptable delays in having the PPE they requested delivered.

“The Commonwealth needs to follow through on their commitment and if they can’t provide required masks they need to fund providers to procure their own.”

Earlier this week the Government announced guiding principles for residential aged care to keep workers and residents safe by having aged care staff work at a single site only.

“The Government has promised support to deal with the financial cost of ensuring no workers are worse off, and filling any staffing gaps, but we have not yet seen any detail on what those measures will actually involve, causing immense confusion and distress among providers and staff.

“I know of one provider who has 38 shifts over a fortnight to fill – where are these staff going to come from?”

While the aged care sector is pushing for hospital transfers for all positive cases from aged care, another alternative has been offered to the Victorian government and not accepted.

“If they cannot go to hospital, it is important that positive cases are moved to a location where they can be best cared for. Transfers are critical to reduce the risk for others in an aged care home.

“Aged care services have offered vacant sites to use as COVID-19 wards and have been turned down. Public Health Units have been taking days to get to some aged care homes that have positive cases.

“We acknowledge the announcement of 28 ADF and PHU teams to make this a 24-hour turnaround because it is critical for the safety of aged care recipients and staff.

“People are also waiting days for returned results and there appears to be no priority given for health care worker status.

“All of these issues mean the aged care sector, which had half of all services reporting a loss before COVID-19, is on the precipice, and government must come to the table or the consequences will be dire.”

Media contact: Nick Way 0419 835 449 nickw@lasa.asn.au