As the number of positive coronavirus cases linked to aged care facilities in Victoria hits double digits, a provider peak body flags the return to more stringent protection measures for aged care services in the state.

As of Thursday, Victoria has reported 12 positive cases of COVID-19 this week linked to 11 aged care facilities.

It includes a resident at the Glendale Aged Care facility in Werribee in Melbourne’s south-west.

The remainder include 11 staff members at 10 facilities although four workers did not work there infectious (see the full list below).

All of the facilities are in lockdown with and cleaning, contact tracing and appropriate testing underway, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said in statements this week.

The news comes as aged care minister Richard Colbeck wrote to aged care providers this week thanking them for their response to COVID while warning to be become complacent (read more here).

Provider peak Aged and Community Services Australia said the escalating situation in Victoria may necessitate a return to more stringent protection measures for Victoria’s residential and home aged care services.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, the situation in Victoria creates a greater risk for aged care residents, clients and staff, said ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow.

Patricia Sparrow

“We are warning that increased protection measures around visitation are likely to be necessary in the coming weeks. 

“Everyone knew that as general restrictions in the community were lifted this would increase the risk of clusters and outbreaks and that’s exactly what has happened,” Ms Sparrow said.

She said no one could afford to get blasé about aged care because older people were one of the most vulnerable groups for COVID19.

Getting the balance right

At the top of providers’ minds is the need to balance prevention of outbreaks with mental health, emotional and spiritual care and compassion, Ms Sparrow said.

“[G]etting the balance right is very difficult and that’s why we have an agreed visitor access code for residential care,” she said.

The visitor code, which was launched in May, was updated a week ago to include the latest advice from health authorities.

That advice includes the relaxing of restrictions for children and spouses as well as the need for stricter visitor restrictions when an outbreak is identified in the community near a facility (see more here).

Providers also need to ensure they are equipped to manage the risk COVID-19 presents but are yet to see a full response from the government on the measures required to see them through the pandemic, Ms Sparrow said.

“There are increased costs to providers for things like PPE, additional staff and leave which are immense and putting extreme pressure on non-profit providers, a majority of which are running at a deficit.”

Victorian cases linked to aged care

Facilities with positive cases among staff include:

  • Menarock Life Aged Care in Essendon (two staff members)
  • BaptCare The Orchards Community in Doncaster
  • Benetas St George’s in Altona Meadows
  • BlueCross Ivanhoe
  • Doutta Galla, Lynch’s Bridge site in Kensington
  • Uniting AgeWell facility in Preston.

Facilities with positive cases among staff who worked while not infectious:

  • Aurrum Aged Care facility in Healesville
  • Holmwood Aged Care facility in Healesville
  • BaptCare Karana in Kew
  • Assisi Aged Care facility in Rosanna.

There was also a positive case among a person providing home aged care services through Mercy Health.

Access the updated industry visitor code here.

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25 Comments

  1. The evidence from Victoria necessitates closer attention to the health of STAFF members, NOT increased restrictions on visitation!
    My personal experience is of a failure of aged care staff to communicate increasing resident dependency – as a result of oversedation – during the period of increased visitor restrictions in April and May. That’s an unacceptable outcome while “protecting vulnerable residents”.

  2. Let’s see some data on the number of visitors to aged care and how many have been turned away because they reported symptoms or had an elevated temperature when screened on entry. C’mon people, let’s deal with evidence not opinion.

  3. With actually working within this industry , biggest problem is Nurses , RN’s EEN’s EN’s & PCA’s & other members including Doctors etc , is that a lot work at multiple sites & companies . Increasing the risk 10 fold . All employees have a duty of care to actually only work at one facility during this Pandemic . And also new laws be introduced through their tax file number , as people will lie stating they don’t work anywhere else that states where else they work , so the vulnerable aren’t put at risk . This should be a mandatory requirement but isn’t . I know of so many people working up to 4 facilities with different providers . All stating they only work at one . Make it mandatory otherwise their putting all lives at risk . Because of greed & unfortunately taking jobs away from others .

  4. St Basil’s Greek Orthodox Fawkner has staff tested positive. Why does this not appear anywhere

  5. Hi Alan,
    Where are you getitng your information from? I can’t see this facility mentioned in offical media channels but can follow up if you provide more info.

  6. Hi Natasha,
    Alan is correct. St Basil’s in Fawkner had a staff member test positive. They rang families on Sunday evening to tell us all.

  7. Hi Natasha,
    My mother a resident at st Basil’s Fawkner aged care was last night sent to hospital with an elevated temperature for monitoring. We were informed on Sunday night that a health care worker tested positive and was asymptomatic whilst there last Mon Tue & Wed. Up until last night the residents had not been tested for Covid. I don’t know what the government is doing but looks like there is no urgency in helping out most vulnerable .

  8. Hi Natasha
    They also did not advise any other staff member of the positive result. Only once reported to Authorities did anything happen. Staff member was a positive result on Thursday of Last week and only yesterday the health authorities were there. Too long in between if you ask me.

  9. The Victorian Department of Health reported on Wednesday there are two positive cases linked to St Basil’s Fawkner.

  10. Hi Natasha,
    There are actually 5 confirmed cases now. My mother who is now in the hospital Covid ward is one of the confirmed cases.

  11. My husband is in aged care due to injury not age, he is very high risk. I have been concerned since the start of lockdown at the lack of PPE in nursing homes. I self isolate so that I can visit but we don’t know who the staff come into contact with out of work hours. It is depressing to see all the older residents just basically asleep most of the time. I feel constantly anxious.

  12. I work in a nursing home and our CEO decided to tell all staff to only work on one site, if staff work in other facility/company they only have to choose 1 to minimise the spread of covid -19 but this was reported to ANMF and these was stopped immediately. U cannot win. I totally agree with working just 1 facility

  13. I was working at 2 facilities until covid19
    Then I made a decision, with my employer, to only work at my main facility.
    It cost me financially, but my mind is at rest that I am keeping residents safe in their home .

  14. I am trying to get information on the exact metropolitan area that has been affected in relation to the 2 Mercy Health in home aged care workers who have tested positive for COVID19 within the last week. My 90 year old mother has a care package with them and they refuse to say which area the workers were from which makes me uneasy.

  15. I was employed at 2 facilities until covid19.
    I chose one facility, even though I cost me financially. The risk of cross contamination was my main concern

  16. The risk of cross contamination commenced when organisations started to casualise the workforce. Care workers got 3-4 shifts a fortnight…. and who would live with that? The current problem cannot be solved with putting more PPE for workers to use; employers / organisations have to realise how current rostering and working conditions of care workers has led to this outbreak. I wonder why the Royal Commission on Aged Care has turned an eye away from this very dominant issue in almost every aged care organisation.

  17. I have now faith in age care facilities , My mother died because she was not given her medication.With this Covid these not enough registered nurses at these nursing homes.These personal carers which have not got enough training as nurses.

  18. I am currently living in an aged care facility. I would like to thank all those health workers who are working so hard to keep us virus free.

  19. Hey everyone
    I am glad to have found this site. My thoughts go out to you all. My mum is in aged care.

    It seems so hard to find information on the aged care facilities with Covid cases. There are currently 61 facilities reported to have cases, yet I have been unable to find any recent or updated list of these facilities. It would be great to find a real time list. Does anyone know of anywhere or any link?

  20. My heart breaks to see what is happening across the aged care sector everywhere. I’m watching from the safety (touch wood) of Tasmania – you gotta love a moat as protection – but we had devastating outbreaks in aged care facilities in the NW of the state earlier in the year.
    That was back in April, so how have we not applied what was learned from that situation?
    The need for training in infection control, availability and instruction in correct usage of PPE, and most importantly the risks posed by staff working across multiple facilities all came to light at the time.
    We shouldn’t need an outbreak before implementing better procedures based on what we already know.
    I understand the ‘buck’ has to stop somewhere but arguing about who is to blame (Fed or State*) obscures the fact that we already know what needs to be done (apart from the Tassie example other countries are months ahead of us, what did they learn/do?), it’s common sense isn’t it?
    Not for a moment do I place blame with individual workers for needing to gain shifts across multiple facilities nor for feeling compelled to work when sick for fear of losing shifts/job – the majority are underpaid, underemployed and often under trained, through no fault of their own.
    What has been highlighted by the pandemic is systemic failure across an industry (the casualisation of the workforce for starters, and not just in aged care) and that is a good thing but addressing this will take time whereas right now we need action.
    You shouldn’t need government say so to implement improved procedures based on our current understanding of the situation.
    Apologies for a very long winded comment…I’m just sad, frustrated and concerned.

    Thank you to all the caring and committed workers out there on the front line. Stay safe.

    *are there any stats on private sector v government funded aged care facilities regards to current Covid-19 status? I’ve not found anything.

  21. Hi Natasha I work at a aged care facility why isn’t there are stoppage to all visitors I know we have to consider their mental health to but at our site we have been strict since the first lockdown restrictions should have never been lifted for aged care facilities and in victoria every resident and staff all should be tested this should be mandatory by the department of health and government who knows who is a carrier of this virus people don’t have symptoms could be positive this is the problem and government do not know enough about this deadly virus all the clusters and people accusing staff about it is wrong we are lucky our facility has no cases but we still.worry as we have residents come back from hospitals but are locked down in their rooms for 14 days and we wear full ppe gear for precautions so why isn’t government setting up mobile sites to all aged care facilities to be tested before clusters happen thankyou

  22. My father is in a Aged Care home and found out that there is 10 positive cases up stairs and my dad is down stairs has been tested just waiting for results 😥😥

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