Dear Mr. Morrison,
Until today I have supported you, praised your leadership, and prayed for you.
When listening to your National Cabinet address last week, I think you became a little confused when discussing aged care, as you stated that your intentions of enforcing restrictions on aged care facilities were not to ‘shut people off and lock them away in their rooms’.
Is this what you think is happening? Do you honestly believe providers are isolating elderly people as a matter of ‘convenience’?
Let me tell you a little about what the past month has looked like in my aged care facility.
We have worked long hours, from the top down. Our CEO, Executive Director, and Operations Manager have been responsive to phone calls, emails, and zoom meetings at any time day or night.
We have been provided with all resources requested; PPE, staffing, and technology. We have been supported to ‘do whatever it takes’ to keep our residents safe.
We’ve covered the costs of all of the additional resources with nothing offered by your government to an industry that is already financially unsustainable.
Over the course of a few days, we were required to review our policies, develop new policies, and implement them at a moment’s notice, all whilst the directives and advice were changing.
We’ve been abused by families who don’t understand why we need to limit access to our facility, to protect their loved one.
We’ve changed our working hours to fit in with skype calls, zoom meetings, and facetime so that families can communicate with each other.
We’ve got extra staff working to ensure nobody feels isolated. Puzzles, quizzes, happy hour, dancing, singing, bingo, art classes, and laughter are all taking place in our facility, albeit a little differently.
We’re spending time writing letters with our residents, to the sweet children at my daughter’s school who sent cards.
We’re having socially distant birthday parties- nobody turns 100 without a party!
We’re holding their hands as they tell us they miss their children and grandchildren. We’re setting their hair because they can’t go to the hairdresser. We’re sitting with them for every meal because they can’t eat in the dining room in groups.
We’re popping down to the supermarket to pick up their essentials… you know the ones… blue vein cheese, crackers, and brandy.
Whilst doing all of this, we’ve been scared.
We’ve been scared by the possibility of one positive test result.
We’ve been scared that we’ll take the illness home to our families. We’ve been scared by the lack of transparency and direction given to providers by your government. We’ve been terrified of the word ‘outbreak’.
However, we’ve continued to come to work.
We’ve continued to put ourselves at risk, not because we’re ‘essential’ but because we care.
We don’t work in this industry because it’s glamorous or pays brilliantly, we do it because we care. We genuinely care, and we’re bloody good at what we do.
Look at what we’ve achieved as an industry compared to the lives lost in facilities all over the world.
So, Mr. Morrison, I believe what you meant to say was:
“Thank you to the aged care providers;
Thank you to the lifestyle teams;
Thank you to the cleaners;
Thank you to the laundry staff;
Thank you to the chefs and kitchen assistants;
Thank you to the admin staff;
Thank you to the maintenance officers;
Thank you to the carers; and
Thank you to the nurses.
Thank you for keeping the vulnerable people in your facilities safe.
Thank you for your professionalism and thank you for loving them.”
Photo supplied by Victoria By The Park.