The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), is working with the Federal Government, health departments and industry stakeholders on contingency plans to prevent the transmission of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect the aged care workforce and vulnerable nursing home residents.

The ANMF is warning that urgent, co-ordinated action is needed to increase the numbers of qualified nurses and carers working in the already, understaffed aged care sector. This follows confirmation today that a long-term employee of an aged care facility at Macquarie Park, in Sydney, had contracted Coronavirus.

Assistant Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp, says the ANMF is also supporting calls from the ACTU, for the Government to provide financial support for the aged care workforce impacted by a potential outbreak of Coronavirus, given over ten percent of workers in nursing homes are casual employees and do not have access to any paid personal leave. 

“As we know, the aged care sector is already dangerously understaffed. A potential outbreak and consequent lockdowns in nursing homes would inevitably, result in a depleted workforce, with reduced numbers of qualified staff on the ground caring for elderly residents,” Ms Sharp said today.

“As nurses on the frontline, we are calling on the Government to urgently increase the numbers of registered nurses in nursing homes, not just relying on hospital Emergency Departments.

“The contingency plans must ensure that aged care providers have enough supplies and equipment in the event of an outbreak in the aged care system, particularly Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that there is sufficient properly skilled and trained staff to implement effective infection control measures.

“Our elderly are more vulnerable than others in the community, many of them with co-morbidities – they are most at risk and need protection. 

“It is crucial that in the event of an outbreak of the Coronavirus, the aged care industry is fully-prepared to treat the elderly and stop further transmission and act promptly to prevent further complications”.

Ms Sharp says the ANMF and its State and Territory branches continue to provide its members working in the health and aged care sectors with support and advice in relation to Coronavirus.

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