Aged Care in desperate need of support from Morrison Government
With COVID cases continuing to rise and outbreaks occurring across aged care facilities, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) is calling on Scott Morrison to increase resources the aged care sector as a matter of urgency as aged care residents and staff are being placed at significant risk due to a severe lack of preparation by the sector and federal government.
The latest COVID-19 cases in aged care from the federal government shows that as of 7 January 2022, 168 facilities in NSW currently have outbreaks with 641 residents and 762 staff testing positive.
NSWNMA Acting General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said nurses working in aged care are desperate for intervention and are running out of options and time.
“The aged care system is so poorly resourced, lacks coordination and is heading for disaster unless the Morrison government steps in immediately to protect residents and staff,” Ms Candish said.
“Many aged care facilities lack resources and equipment to maintain COVID-19 infection control standards, are unable to supply fit tested Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sometimes even lack the basics of providing staff with correct masks.
“The public health system is so incredibly overwhelmed at the moment that aged care facilities can’t rely on them for support as they did in the last outbreak.
During the Delta outbreak last year, COVID-19 positive residents were transferred to local public hospitals to minimise cross infection and to ensure acute care needs were met. We also often saw public sector resources sent into the aged care facilities to achieve the same outcome. This is currently not the case.
As the state health system grapples with its own crisis, aged care is a federal responsibility and the federal government cannot delay action on protecting residents and staff any further.
“Our members in aged care are reporting a staffing crisis, lack of access to suitable PPE, substandard infection control practices, and with many residents and staff still awaiting their booster. Some aged care facilities are being forced to ration rapid antigen tests, only using them every 72 hours.
“Where is the Morrison government when it comes to ensuring aged care residents and staff are receiving their booster shots in a timely and effective manner? Where are they when it comes to ensuring aged care staff are fit tested for their P2/N95 masks?
“With increasing cases appearing in Aged Care facilities across the country already, this is a disaster waiting to happen.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care identified significant issues with infection control across the sector, these issues have still not been addressed by the Federal government so it seems inevitable that residents without their booster shot and who are locked down in their facility will likely contract COVID-19.
“Aged care staff are devastated their residents are being locked down in rooms. Our members are worried about the safety of their residents and hold serious concerns if nothing is done.
“Scott Morrison must take action immediately before it’s too late. The Federal Government must ramp up the booster program, ensure better access to rapid antigen tests in all facilities and ensure the distribution of fit tested PPE.
“If the Morrison government does not act on these specific issues then they will have once again let down residents in aged care.