Retirement living and residential aged care operator Aveo has become the first retirement living provider in Australia to formally request employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
All current employees in their retirement living facilities are expected to have received their first vaccination by 1 November 2021 and a follow-up vaccination by no later than 15 December 2021.
As a next step, Aveo intends to formalise a policy requiring all employees, contractors and service providers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a valid medical exemption.
Aveo CEO Tony Randello said more needs to be done in the retirement living industry to protect residents and workers from COVID-19.
Mr Randello said: “The average age of residents in our communities is around 82 years and many of them are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Aveo wants to do all it can to provide a safe living and working environment for valued residents who call our communities home and our employees, which is why we have taken this step.
“Clinical studies have shown that vaccination saves lives and prevents serious illness, hospitalisation and death. In terms of slowing the spread of the virus, the mandatory vaccination of staff in residential aged care has proven effective in considerably reducing the COVID-19 infection rate in the aged care sector.
“We surveyed our people and 83 per cent of respondents expressed a preference for working only with others who are vaccinated, and 90 per cent had already had at least one dose of the vaccine. Aveo has received direct feedback from residents and resident committees in our communities, telling us that they expect all employees with whom they interact to be vaccinated.
“It is our duty as a leading retirement living provider to listen to our employees and residents and protect our communities. The government has mandated vaccinations for aged care workers but has yet to apply this to the retirement living sector. Unfortunately, we don’t believe we can wait any longer for government-mandated vaccinations for retirement living as COVID-19 cases are expected to significantly increase as the states look to reopen. For this reason, we have decided to take immediate action. “
Aveo will consult with employees from now until 15 December 2021 to work through any
concerns they have and to identify employees who are unable to be vaccinated due to a
valid medical exemption. For those with a medical exemption, Aveo intends to work with the employee to find a way for them to work safely.