Thousands of aged care residents infected as COVID-19 hits a third of facilities across Australia
Aged care providers are calling for urgent action to protect residents and staff from a winter COVID-19 wave that is hitting more than one-third of the country’s facilities.
Aged & Community Care Providers Association said 6,000 residents and 3,400 staff were infected in 1,013 facilities as of Thursday.
The association’s interim chief executive Paul Sadler said 10-15 per cent of staff are already isolating or quarantining at home, and the coming weeks will put intense pressure on aged care residents and workers.
“ACCPA is concerned that anywhere up to two-thirds of aged care homes could be affected by active outbreaks over coming weeks,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“The increased availability in surge workforce including the Australian Defence Force over the past week has been welcome, but there is still a shortfall.
“The reality is we can’t leave older people without adequate levels of care for too long.”
Mr Sadler said 2,301 residents have died in 2022, including 114 in the past week.
He called for more support for a surge workforce, including ADF personnel, until at least September.
Over the longer term, Mr Sadler said, the federal government must plan to fix chronic workforce shortfalls, prepare for future outbreaks and implement reforms recommended by the recent royal commission into aged care.
“The coming weeks are critical for aged care. We must do all we can to put the protection of older people first and support our aged care workers,” he said.
Last week, the government outlined its response to how aged care facilities would manage the rise in cases during winter.
The government’s winter plan in aged care is based around an increase in vaccination, antiviral access, visitor and worker safety, infection control training and proactive engagement.