Call for Action on Vic Aged Care Outbreaks

July 24, 2020 Updated: July 24, 2020

Growing concern for the health and care of more than one million older Australians has prompted a top-level meeting as well as calls to also protect workers.

The need for a national response to safeguard elder Victorians has been highlighted after eight of the 12 fatalities in the state on July 23 and July 24 were aged care residents.

Aged and Community Services Australia chief executive Patricia Sparrow on Friday demanded co-ordinated action to help the almost 1.3 million Victorians receiving care.

Sparrow argued the federal government needed to “stop what’s happening” in Victoria because it could easily happen in another part of the country.

Victoria recorded 300 new COVID-19 cases on Friday as well as the deaths of seven people, five of them linked to aged care facilities.

Three of the five deaths in Victoria were aged care residents at facilities where outbreaks have occurred.

Sparrow also said there was growing concern that they were not going to be able to fill all the shifts needed at aged care centres.

“It’s getting more difficult to get staff across the board and that’s why we think we need an overall plan,” she said on Friday.

“Bringing staff from interstate, or using the military, or using students who have had additional training, we need to make sure that we’ve got staff.”

Ms Sparrow said staff shortages were happening because workers were required to self-isolate while awaiting test results, and the restriction to working at only one site has also affected rostering.

The measure to restrict staff movement between aged care centres has been estimated to affect about 30 percent of the workforce.

Ulises Izquierdo in Melbourne