TLC Healthcare has started rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and staff at two non-TLC Victorian aged care and retirement living facilities this week, the organisation’s CEO tells Australian Ageing Agenda.
TLC Healthcare offered to help other Victorian aged care providers with their COVID-19 vaccine rollout after successfully completing its own vaccination rollout to 11 homes in May, CEO Lou Pascuzzi said.
“TLC is happy to support the prevention of loss of life in Victorian residential aged care homes,” Mr Pascuzzi told AAA.
The provider is administering COVID-19 vaccinations at an aged care facility in Carrum Downs and a retirement village in Frankston North in Melbourne.
It involves TLC’s immunisation team administering the COVID-19 vaccine at the two sites, which can take up to two days depending on the number of people to vaccinate, Mr Pascuzzi said.
“The vaccines are transported from our medical centre to the location in temperature controlled eskys to ensure cold chain is not broken. Once on-site, our team administers the vaccines to the residents or staff, who are then observed for 15 minutes to ensure that they do not experience any adverse reactions,” he said.
TLC Healthcare has extended an offer to vaccinate other aged care homes in Victoria at no cost to the provider.
“Each request will be assessed on their individual circumstances, location and TLC’s capacity,” he said.
Mr Pascuzzi said it was important to vaccinate as many residents and staff as possible given the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and the onset of the flu season.
TLC Healthcare’s medical centres are also approved to vaccinate members of the public who are eligible under the Governments’ phased rollout.
TLC Healthcare applied to the Department of Health in February to vaccinate their residents, staff and contractors themselves to speed up the rollout and went on to administer more than 7,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccination as part of that.
Mercy Health also offered to vaccinate
Fellow Victorian aged care provider Mercy Health unsuccessfully applied to the health department in March to administer vaccines across residents and staff at its 26 residential aged care homes.
However, the department did not accept the provider’s offer, a spokesperson from Mercy Health told AAA.
“Our approach was to use our experienced teams of nurse vaccinators, supported by other skilled clinical staff, to deliver the vaccine,” the spokesperson said.
“The majority of our residents have now been vaccinated and we continue to strongly encourage more of our staff to be vaccinated as well.”
Ryman staff move in to minimise infection risks
Elsewhere in Victoria, seven staff members at Ryman Healthcare have this week moved into the retirement village they work at as an infection prevention measure.
Ryman Healthcare conducted an infection risk assessment last month at its Weary Dunlop Retirement Village and Nellie Melba Retirement Village in Wheelers Hill when the COVID-19 outbreak worsened in Victoria.
The audit identified 45 staff who were at high risk of infection because they live with a person who works at another aged care facility, a high-risk medical setting, or a COVID-19 testing site.
To minimise the risk, the provider offered these staff members free accommodation.
Another five staff are set to move in later this week, a spokesperson from Ryman Healthcare told AAA.
Ryman Healthcare Australia CEO Cameron Holland said keeping staff safe was critical to keeping residents safe.
“It’s a huge commitment for these people to make. They’ve volunteered to leave their loved ones and shut themselves away from the outside world, all because they want to protect the residents they care for,” Mr Holland said.
“Seeing what they do day in, day out, it doesn’t surprise me at all that they’re prepared to go to these lengths, but we’re still incredibly proud of them for the sacrifice they’re making,” he said.
Many of the staff members who did not move in have made different accommodation arrangements, Ryman Healthcare said.
More than 30 staff members moved into the two villages last year during the height of the pandemic, with some staying for more than four months.
Main image: TLC’s medical team conducting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at its Forest Lodge home.