Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the voice of aged care, supports measures to reduce the risk of vulnerable older Australians becoming infected with COVID-19, including the Aged Care Minister’s suggested visitor restrictions in aged care homes.

“This is about protecting our most vulnerable and saving lives, and we ask all families and friends of loved ones to cooperate,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney.

“The safety of older Australians in care is paramount, along with the safety of the passionate and professional workforce who care for them.

“Importantly, this is a shared responsibility between the aged care sector and the entire community.”

The aged care sector has been on rising alert levels since late January. Infection control is core business for aged care providers and they have strong controls in place to deal with viral outbreaks, as mandated through the Aged Care Quality Standards.

These are being constantly updated, with providers establishing special COVID-19 management teams that often meet twice daily. The Minister’s recommendations to minimise visitors are here.

“Many aged care providers are ahead of the curve, having already reduced visitation before today’s announcement,” Mr Rooney said.

“In the past few days, some homes have undertaken intensified risk mitigation measures including preventing entry to individuals except for essential staff or contractors, with all people entering a facility subject to intensive screening.

“Some homes, who consider their residents at higher risk, have been temperature testing and asking about overseas travel for all entrants – staff, contractors and visitors – for weeks now.

“Many homes had already reduced visits by children and school groups and visits by some volunteer visitor groups had also been discontinued.”

Providers are following the directions of the Department of Health and the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia and LASA is keeping them constantly updated. LASA has also collated resources to assist the aged care sector on a dedicated page on the website.

Homes are re-iterating through letters and signage that protecting older people is an aged care sector and a community responsibility.

“All people associated with residents – relatives, friends, staff and contractors – must follow personal hygiene recommendations to minimise the virus threat, such as handwashing, distancing from people, avoiding touching your face and seeking immediate medical help if they have any sign of cold or flu-like symptoms,” said Mr Rooney.

“Home care providers are also working hard to protect their clients and staff, and are intensifying their efforts, in the wake of the increasing threat of COVID-19.”

While residential care sites can be secured and visitors carefully vetted to protect residents and staff, older people receiving home care within the community are highly vulnerable to the spread of the virus.

“The scale of the challenge is vast, with more than one million older Australians receiving care and assistance through the Home Care Packages scheme and the Commonwealth Home Support Program,” Mr Rooney said.

“LASA continues to work tirelessly with agencies and the Government to ensure aged care in the home is a critical part of the COVID-19 response.”

About Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)

LASA is the national association for all providers of age services across residential care, home care and retirement living/seniors housing. Our purpose is to enable high performing, respected, and sustainable age services that support older Australians to age well by providing care, support and accommodation with quality, safety and compassion – always.

We represent providers of age services of all types and sizes located across Australia’s metropolitan, regional and rural areas. Consistent with the overall industry profile, 56% of our Members are not-for-profit providers, 36% are for-profit providers and 8% are government providers.

Our diverse and representative membership gives LASA the ability to speak with credibility and authority on issues of importance to older Australians and the age services industry.

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