The Victorian Premier’s disparaging comments about non-government run facilities are disappointing, hurtful and fear mongering, says an aged care provider peak body.

There are 769 active cases linked to Victorian aged care facilities but only five are in state-run facilities, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference on Tuesday.

Daniel Andrews

Mr Andrews said he did not have confidence that non-government aged care facilities could do an adequate job and that current practices were not acceptable.

He said he would not let his mother live in some of those places.

Victorian government-run aged care facilities operate around 9 per cent of the state’s residential aged care places, which is a much larger footprint than any other state or territory government has.

Between June 2020 and 28 July, 93 aged care homes in the state including six Victorian state government run facilities (6.5 percent) have had at least one confirmed COVID-19 case, a spokesperson for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Leading Age Services Australia General Manager of Policy and Advocacy Tim Hicks said the Premier’s commentary comparing state-run aged care facilities with non-state facilities was unnecessary.

“It has been disappointing and hurtful for many aged care providers and their dedicated staff who are working tirelessly around the clock to protect residents,” he said.

Tim Hicks

The state owns 3.9 per cent of residential aged care services and 1.7 per cent of aged care beds, he said.

“The facts are that the proportion of state-owned facilities in Victoria with COVID-19 equates to around 6.5 per cent of the total homes affected,” Mr Hicks said.

“The Premier’s comments about not wanting his own mother in some of the affected homes was unhelpful and will deepen fears, when local providers, state and federal authorities and the Australian Defence Force are working so hard to save lives.”

At a press conference later in the day, Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt talked highly of the non-state-run aged care facility, where his father lived.

Addditional health support announced

Elsewhere Mr Andrews announced that some elective surgeries would be cancelled to allow for additional health professionals to support the aged care sector and for some residents to be transferred to hospitals.

“These circumstances are different to Sydney. It will be safer for the vast majority of residents to stay in their aged care home.

“There will be some transferred to public and private hospitals but many more will remain with in reach teams sent in to service them,” Mr Andrews said.

He said the sate and commonwealth governments were working together  to ensure the response to families improved.

“We have to get this done and we will get this done in partnership.”

Renewed calls for early hospitalisations of COVID-positive residents

Provider peak bodies welcomed these announcements but reiterated calls for index cases among aged care residents to be transferred to hospital immediately.  

“To have extra teams of public health experts and nursing staff moved from hospitals and assigned to residential aged care facilities to bolster oversight and care is great news,” Mr Hicks said.

“We believe positive cases among aged care residents should generally be moved to hospitals, to reduce the chance of cross-infection and increase the level of acute care.”

Similarly Aged and Community Services Australia said it was fantastic that hospitalisation of aged care residents had but added it should occur at the first instance to prevent major outbreaks and maximise chances of survival

Patricia Sparrow

ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said aged care homes needed the support of the public health system because there weren’t designed or funded to be able to provide hospital-level containment and treatment of this virus.

“This should be happening before we end up with these terrible outcomes. Unfortunately, what’s happening at the moment with transfer to hospital is not a preventative measure.

“In order to prevent mass outbreaks as we’ve seen over the last week, we need hospitalisation to happen as soon as someone tests positive,” Ms Sparrow said.

“We are calling on the Commonwealth and States to work together to guarantee that the first cases in aged care homes can be automatically transferred in order to protect older people in care and to prevent mass outbreaks.”

Large aged care outbreaks

Active aged care outbreaks with the highest cumulative case numbers are:

  • 88 cases linked to Estia Aged Care Facility in Ardeer
  • 86 cases linked to St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner
  • 82 cases linked to Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping
  • 76 cases linked to Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth
  • 62 cases linked to Menarock Life Aged Care Facility in Essendon
  • 53 cases linked to Glendale Aged Care Facility in Werribee
  • 51 cases linked to Batpcare Wyndham Lodge in Werribee
  • 50 cases linked to Estia Aged Care Facility in Heidelberg
  • 40 cases linked to Outlook Gardens Aged Care Facility in Dandenong North
  • 39 cases linked to Arcare Aged Care Facility in Craigieburn.

There have been new 476 positive cases among aged care residents, 42 of whom have died, since 6 July, according to Commonwealth government figures on 28 July.

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4 Comments

  1. I did think at the time that his comments would be very upsetting to everyone who is working so incredibly hard to provide the quality of care required for the people that live in residential homes. I am saddened that he doesn’t realise how challenging infection control can be in an outbreak, let alone a Pandemic. He really does need to work in a residential home for 48 hrs that has cases and learn first hand how difficult this is.

  2. He should also see why the government has reduced its “publicly funded” residential aged care beds, and failed to adequately address funding in the private and not-for-profit aged care sectors.

  3. The blame game in aged care is always dissapointing, it unfortunately causes people to not want to be involved in the sector and head for the hospitals or Home care, at a time when we need people to commit to and be passionate about residential aged care. These sort of comments just fuel the negativity surrounding residential aged care and gives the ‘difficult families’ more reason to bombard the complaints line , no wonder the Quality Agency have advertised for more complaints handling officers. This is a time for support and understanding, the challenges are massive, those on the front line are doing their best and doing it tough.

  4. I find it very upsetting to see someone use the term ‘difficult families’ and doesn’t assist the current situation. I can assure you if I had a family member in residential aged care at this moment I would be joining the ranks of so called ‘difficult families’ too to ensure all was well with my loved one. No ones disputes there are a considerable number of fantastic staff working in residential care BUT there are also areas where there is evidence that care is not up to the standard required under Commonwealth guidelines. The numbers released today speak for themselves. I am very happy to read that the Royal Commission into Aged Care have issued a media release that they will be examining the evolving impact of COVID-19 on aged care – an independent assessment.

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