Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the voice of aged care, thanks the Aged Care Royal Commission for their special report on aged care and COVID-19.

“Protecting older Australians receiving care and support in our aged care system from COVID-19 is a national priority and this report and its recommendations will make a big difference,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney.

“The recommendations to Government make protecting and maintaining the physical and mental health of older people in care the end game, not a blame game.

“It is with great sadness that we have seen nearly 900 deaths from COVID-19 in Australia, many of those associated with aged care.

“We praise the courageous health and aged care workers and providers who are doing their best, in challenging circumstances, with at times limited resources, to keep people safe and well during the pandemic. This is acknowledged in the Royal Commission’s Special Report.

“That is why safeguarding and saving the lives of older Australians in care is paramount and a strict timeline for implementation of the six recommendations is essential.”

The recommendations are built on the lessons we have learned as our understanding of the coronavirus has evolved. Specifically, we see the need for focussed actions to both prevent the risk of infections in aged care and to respond to infections if they occur.

“LASA welcomes the Royal Commission’s recommendation to ensure adequate resourcing is provided for the care, safe visitation and allied health needs of residential and home care clients,” Mr Rooney said.

“Having at least one fully accredited infection control officer in every aged care home is vital, with additional training provided to maximise protection.

“We believe the Government’s National Aged Care Advisory Group should be expanded with more sector specific expertise, to reflect the recommendations of the Royal Commission report.

“The national, state and territory public health response procedures must be welded together and prioritised for outbreak management, linking the health and aged care interface, including agreed protocols on the transfer of infected residents to hospital.

“Further, having integrated national and local plans which are understood and have been stress-tested by health and aged care services are crucial to ensure that older Australians in care are kept safe in the event of widespread community outbreaks.

“LASA has communicated detailed lessons learned from Australia and overseas to all governments. Considering, interpreting and actioning each of these learnings will assist in saving lives.

“We acknowledge that everyone involved in aged care is working incredibly hard but we also know that our treasured older Australians are still at risk.

“Our valued workforce are doing all they can to protect those in their care and we need the rest of community to play their part by doing all they can to stop the spread in the wider community.

“We are all in this together and we all have a role to play. We must take big and bold steps, immediately.”

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