Inquiry to Probe Aged Care Virus Response

August 3, 2020 Updated: August 3, 2020

Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck will give evidence to an inquiry into the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been 800 cases of COVID-19 in aged care facilities nationally so far, with 136 residents dying.

As well, there have been 54 cases recorded at in-home care, including five deaths.

Senator Colbeck is one of a number of high-profile witnesses to front the Senate committee on Aug 4, along with the acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and head of the health department Brendan Murphy.

The committee will also speak with Janet Anderson, the aged care quality and safety commissioner.

Last Friday, the commissioner wrote to aged care service providers to say it would be launching spot checks of infection controls and the use of personal protective equipment, with priority put on greater Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

Where aged care staff were found not to be following appropriate practices the commission would consider sanctions, the commissioner warned.

A special response centre has been set up in Victoria to deal with the identification of cases in aged care, as well as the testing of staff and residents.

Labor has called for greater federal government action to deal with the “horror show” in aged care.

As well, the royal commission into aged care has expressed its concern at the many deaths from COVID-19 in residential facilities and began looking at the specific issue in May.

The Prime Minister has said the worst of the crisis has been avoided by a majority of the aged care system.

Morrison also confirmed that the most concerning cases are no longer operating as normal. Instead, the care and management style of those aged-care homes has reformed into a system more similar to hospital care.

“They have move effectively into an in-patient care type facility, akin to what you would see in a hospital,” Morrison said.

Additionally, around 150,000 Victorian aged care workers will partake in a refresher course for infection control.

Paul Osborne in Canberra