A major crisis is unfolding in Queensland and South Australia’s aged care homes, putting the lives of residents and aged care workers at risk while COVID-19 spreads unabated.
While the vast majority of aged care facilities have recorded at least one case among residents or staff, workers are unable to secure vital personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks and Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).
Anxiety is rife among aged care workers as they are not being told when their colleagues or the people they care for have contracted COVID-19. Infection rates are high among workers putting further strain on facilities that have been running short-staffed for years.
United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith said workers were angry that the Federal Government seemingly has no plan to protect them and the residents they look after.
“Aged care workers have always felt ignored but now they feel completely abandoned,” Ms Smith said.
“Scott Morrison has had more than two years to prepare for this eventuality. He was warned. But now, as borders fall and COVID cases increase, workers cannot even access something as simple as a mask.”
“As a result of Morrison’s neglect in the aged care industry over many years, COVID-related absences means that the level of care has been severely compromised and aged care residents are being forced to turn to over-burdened hospitals.
“To top it all off, workers are distressed that they cannot do the job to the ability they want, which is negatively impacting older Australians and taking a huge emotional toll on already burned-out workers.”
Residential aged care providers can request PPE and Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) from the National Medical Stockpile via an online form, however the union has been told that this is only for sites with active cases and that delivery can take more than five days because of supply chain issues.