A retirement village operator in south-east Queensland has implemented a no-jab, no-work policy for tradespeople, gardeners and other contractors that carry out work at the village.

The policy, which came into effect this week on 1 September, will apply to the up- to-50 contractors who work at the village in Springwood each month.

The village’s five staff members and almost all of its 190 residents are already vaccinated, said Elements Retirement Living managing director Chiou See Anderson.

The organisation decided to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for contractors to further protect staff and residents within the community, she said.

“My view is that the tradies who come into my village do not just work in my village. They also work in the general community – they work everywhere.

“And if there’s going to be a super spreader event, forget aged care people whom you can identify quite quickly. You cannot identify where all the tradies go because their daily roster is on demand,” Ms Anderson told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Chiou See Anderson

“If the workers that are coming into the village are vaccinated, then we’ve got another line of defence in terms of protecting our residents.”

She said the village’s contractors have responded positively to the policy.

“If I do get push back, I will appoint somebody else who wants to be vaccinated because I’m out there purchasing services,” Ms Anderson said.

The policy has also enabled some of the contracting services, which are predominantly small businesses, to instigate a vaccination conversation with their employees.

“Instead of mandating [the vaccine] for their staff, their conversations are ‘look, for you to work at Elements Retirement Village, they’re now requiring you to be vaccinated.’

“So it takes the pressure off them having a difficult conversation with their tradies,” she said.

Luzac Plumbing owner Marc Melville said he supported the policy.

“I agree that when you are providing services to older Australians you need to do what you can to protect your clients, so I think it’s great that Elements are taking this extra precaution,” said Mr Melville, whose organisation carries out work at the village.

Ms Anderson said she supported making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for retirement living staff, just like it is in residential aged care.

“The nature of retirement villages is independent living, which means we don’t have that many staff members.

“We use contractors because it makes more sense. So you find that in most retirement villages, you’d be lucky to get one village manager and maybe one grounds person. The rest of the people coming in are contract staff. So it’s not that hard to achieve a full vaccination rate,” she said.

For other retirement living providers interested in mandating the vaccine for contractors, an initial conversation with staff is key, Ms Anderson said.

“If your staff are not supportive of this… [and] if your staff do not walk the talk, then your contractors are not going to do it,” she said.

Main image: Elements Retirement Living in south-east Queensland

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