The Federal Minister for Health has said he “would not hear a word” against aged care staff, while the Victorian Premier has admitted he would not let his mother live in an aged care home affected by COVID-19, as the escalating aged care crisis in Melbourne causes emotions to rise.

In his briefing today, Premier Daniel Andrews said aged care residents who require a hospital transfer will be moved to hospital.

Non-essential surgery will be suspended in public and private hospitals in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to free up hospital beds for residents requiring a transfer and to enable nurses to help care for aged care residents.

At times, 100 per cent of staff in aged care homes have been forced to self isolate due to COVID-19, leaving the residents in an extremely vulnerable situation.

The decision about which residents will be moved to hospital will be made based on clinical needs, said chief health officer, Brett Sutton.

Surge staffing unable to contain outbreak

Victoria’s Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos, fought back tears as she spoke about the outbreak at St Basil’s, where a large proportion of the residents are of Greek heritage.

She said staff were provided to the facility but “it’s been very clear that those steps have not been sufficient”, and now “the vast majority” of residents have been transferred to largely private hospitals.

Ms Mikakos said the “vast majority” of aged care residents who have tested positive to COVID-19 have been transferred to hospitals across Melbourne, and more transfers are planned.

Ms Mikakos said staff shortages are continuing to place “significant pressures” on aged care facilities.

“Can I just say to those families who do have their loved one in private aged care at the moment, we are taking steps to ensure that your loved one gets the clinical care that they need. 

“In some circumstances, it will continue to be the safest option for your loved one to stay in that nursing facility. 

“But where there is a clinical need, we will not hesitate to make sure that your loved one has a hospital bed available to them,” Ms Mikakos said.

384 new cases, six deaths

Mr Andrews revealed there were 384 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, with 260 in hospital and 45 in intensive care. 

Six new deaths were reported over the period, two people in their 90s, three in their 80s, and one person in their 70s. 

Four of the deaths are related to clusters in private-sector aged care homes.

“I wouldn’t let my mum be in some of these places” 

Of the 769 cases reported in aged care facilities, only five have been reported in public aged care facilities.

Mr Andrews said the State Control Centre would be “specifically and exclusively” focusing on private-sector aged care facilities, and building a workforce that could go into facilities to “provide a higher degree of care and support”.

Mr Hicks said the premier’s comparison of state and 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.

“In metropolitan Melbourne, the state owns 3.9% of residential aged care services and 1.7% of aged care beds.

“The facts are that the proportion of state-owned facilities in Victoria with COVID-19 equates to around 7 per cent of the total homes affected.”

“I will not hear a word against them”

The Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, today said aged care staff are “wonderful human beings”.

Mr Hunt’s father lived in an aged care facility in the later years of his life.

“I cannot imagine better care that my family and my father could have got and I speak, I think, for hundreds of thousands of families around the country,” he said.

“The idea that our carers, that our nurses are not providing that care, I think, is a dangerous statement to make.

“They are wonderful human beings and I will not hear a word against them.”

Mr Hunt said Defence Force healthcare staff have also been deployed into nursing homes experiencing shortages.

Outbreaks more severe in private sector homes

Of the 769 cases reported in aged care facilities, only five have been reported in public aged care facilities.

Mr Andrews said the State Control Centre would be “specifically and exclusively” focusing on private-sector aged care facilities, and building a workforce that could go into facilities to “provide a higher degree of care and support”.

Mr Hicks said the premier’s comparison of state and 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.

“In metropolitan Melbourne, the state owns 3.9% of residential aged care services and 1.7% of aged care beds.

“The facts are that the proportion of state-owned facilities in Victoria with COVID-19 equates to around 7 per cent of the total homes affected.”

Political divide is widening

Mr Andrews said the aged care sector is run by the Commonwealth, but the Victorian government is stepping in to provide help.

“We don’t run this sector, but the residents in these homes are all Victorians,” he said.

“The Commonwealth Government have asked for help and that is exactly what my government and our agencies will provide to them,” he said.

Get tested as soon as you experience symptoms, wait at home for results

The government has made available a further 5 million masks and 500,000 reusable face shields to the aged care workforce around Australia.

On questions about the human rights issues of wearing a mark, the premier said “Honestly, one more comment about human rights… it’s about human life,” he said.

The premier ended the conference by reminding Victorians to get tested as soon as they experience symptoms, and to isolate at home while they await the results.

Image: chameleonseye, iStock.

(Visited 387 times, 2 visits today)