The peak body for non-profit aged care providers Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has issued a warning to all governments that without the immediate transfer of all first coronavirus cases to hospital we are likely to see more tragedy in aged care across the country.

“With clusters and community transmission continuing and likely for months to come, we need policies that protect aged care residents in the long term,” ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said.

“Aged care homes are not hospitals. They aren’t staffed like hospitals. They are not funded like hospitals. They are homes.

“Without the immediate transfer of all first cases in aged care to hospital we could see a repeat of the immense tragedy unfolding in Victorian aged care elsewhere. This policy, which has been adopted in South Australia, should be adopted everywhere.

“The idea that aged care homes could contain such a contagious and deadly virus without the unfettered support of the health system is ridiculous.

“Aged care facilities are homes for their residents, not wards with critical care systems. They have passionate and hard-working personal care workers and nurses but operate on only a fraction of the resources.

“The average aged care funding of $265 per resident per day is significantly less than the approximately $1,200 per day payment in sub-acute care, with acute care funded at an even higher amount.

“It’s great that additional state and federal resources go into aged care once there is an outbreak but in reality that can be too late.

“Hospital transfer from aged care provides the best possible medical care but it is just as important in order to stop the virus spreading to other residents and prevent tragedy. It will also give time for the state and federal governments to establish systems for a hospital in the home approach with the facility should that be needed.

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

“Other preventative measures which should be put in place include a regular testing regime for all aged care staff with a fast turnaround on the results.  This will both assist in limiting the spread and supporting staff as they continue to selflessly and tirelessly work to support older Australians,” Ms Sparrow said.

Image: andresr, iStock.

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