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Urgent plans for South Australian aged care workers to be banned from aged care facilities until they are vaccinated is a case of workers being punished for the bungled aged care vaccination rollout, United Workers Union said today.

“The South Australian aged care workforce bans that have been flagged with unions and aged care providers will be disastrous for older Australians in aged care facilities,” Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director of United Workers Union said today.

“Aged care workers are once again carrying the can for the Federal Government’s bungles – and now they face draconian SA Government measures that will hit older Australians hard.”

In meetings between SA Health, unions and aged care providers yesterday (EDS: Tuesday, June 1), SA Health outlined changes to the SA Government’s Aged Care Emergency Management Direction.

The main change will be to ban aged care workers who work two jobs from providing aged care at secondary worksites if they are not vaccinated.

“These measures are being brought in without due consideration about the huge impacts they will have on the aged care workforce,” Ms Smith said.

“The planned measure will stretch to breaking point a workforce that is already struggling to keep up.

“We know from aged care workers there is not enough staff, and shifts are not being filled on a regular basis.

“Hasty measures that ban aged care workers from their workplaces will only make matters worse, and leave staff struggling even more to provide quality care older Australians deserve.

“SA Health was unable to answer questions about how the measure will be phased in, and how aged care workers are supposed to cope if they suddenly find themselves even more understaffed.”

Ms Smith said the moves by SA Health ignored the experience of aged care workers who have been keen to get a vaccine, but have been stymied by lack of supplies and a broken vaccination system.

Aged care workers were originally supposed to get their vaccinations in aged care facilities but this system has been abandoned.

Under SA Health plans workers will be told to visit the state’s vaccination sites, but aged care workers have reported difficulties in getting the vaccine from these sites due to rollout issues.