Govt still unclear about who will need to be vaccinated under new mandate

Crisis Comms

A week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that all aged care workers must have at least one COVID-19 vaccine by September, it remains unclear whether the new requirements will extend to employees in cleaning, catering, maintenance, administration and other roles that interact with residents. It is also unknown if the mandate will extend to employees providing home care services.

So far only general information had been shared with providers related to funding support to compensate for staff, including casuals, to have time off to get the vaccine.

Recordings of this training session are now available on-demand. Click the below advertisement to buy your copy.

In response to questions from Inside Ageing seeking to clarify which employees would be required to be vaccinated, the Department of Health and Ageing said more information would be released in due course.

While some providers have issued statements in support of the announcement, behind the scenes many are scathing and warn it will create further workforce shortages.

“There was no engagement with providers about this and at the time of the announcement, no clear rollout plan,” said the CEO of a residential care provider in New South Wales who has asked to remain anonymous.

“It was clearly a knee-jerk attempt to change the narrative on a day when the nation was entering a crisis with COVID outbreaks in all but two states, and the way in which it has been communicated has done more damage than good. Staff are upset, residents and their families want to know more but we have no further information to offer them.”

“We have been trying for months to secure additional vaccines for employees – the majority of whom want to have it. But in many areas, particularly regional areas, the additional vaccine was not provided for staff and they could only access what remained after residents had been vaccinated on a given day.”

“The high turnover of occupancy in residential care – because people are entering care in a more frail state and with more complex health conditions – means that many of the residents who were vaccinated earlier in the year have since passed away. But our staff, most of whom want to get vaccinated, are still waiting and have been condemned by the Government and media for not acting fast enough.”

“The other side to this problem is that residents are coming to us unvaccinated. All residents entering aged care should have access to Pfizer before they enter care. This is what should be mandated if the Government is genuinely concerned about protecting older Australians.”

The CEO of another aged care operator in Queensland said the decision will create further hurdles to attract and retain employees and double standards that penalise aged care workers and employers.

“Rather than focusing this message on the safety of essential workers, the way in which this news has been delivered once again paints aged care workers in a negative light,” he said.

“No one is refuting that mass vaccination is critical for the nation, but there are legitimate concerns about mandating it. What will this mean for employees who can’t receive the vaccine for medical reasons?”

“Our biggest challenge right now is workforce shortages. Not only has this decision added another hurdle to attracting people to work in aged care but it will force out some existing employees who are experienced and dedicated. This creates double standards that penalise aged care workers and employers, with very little logic.”

“There is no mandate for hospital workers to be vaccinated. There is no mandate for police or other emergency services staff who may need to enter an aged care facility. Will there be a mandate that people who want to visit their loved one in residential care have to be vaccinated too?”

ANFM Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said that whilst the Federation strongly encourages vaccination, the Government’s mandate must be based on clear-cut health advice, not political advice.

“The critical issues now are access to vaccines and support for aged care staff. So far, the vaccine roll-out in privately-run aged care facilities has been an absolute shambles.”

“The Morrison Government’s promises for aged care just keep coming, but at this stage, there are more questions than answers.”

What will this mean for your organisation? Let us know in the comment thread or email editor@insideageing.com.au to share your experience.

5 COMMENTS

  1. There should be a mandate for everyone that enters,visits or otherwise enters aged care facilities to be vaccinated.
    Every family member that loses a loved one in residential care due to covid should and would be furious with the facility, but their hands are tied.
    People used to follow the rules but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.
    Covid doesn’t start inside facilities and it should be very easy to say no jab,no entry.

    • My body my choice is the mantra of the abortion industry. It should equally apply to vaccination as a choice. My father in aged care was told by his specialist doctors not to take the vaccine as it would likely kill him due to his poor health. Does that mean therefore he should be made to leave aged care? If someone chooses bad behaviour (in your eyes) that causes a consequence (e.g. lung cancer from smoking, quadriplegia from speeding in a motor vehicle accident), does that mean by extension of definition that the community should not support their long term health issues as it was their choice to make foolish (in your eyes) decisions? They never followed the rules of self-discipline knowing the likely consequences. Where do you stop with this (edited) thought process?

  2. as a pca i am enraged i need to have a covid vaccination to keep my job two jabs a year flu and covid i want to refuse this i should have a choice i dont want this i should have a right to choose

  3. The 10 legal rights of medication administration for a nurse include “the right to refuse”, yet this mandate will take that right away. This is legally and ethical immoral.

  4. Due to complications after flu vaccinations yearly, my last was 2019 and had many sick days off due to this, I decided that year would be my last vaccination. I live remotely, don’t socialise, only do shopping. I still had a further 17 years of my nursing career to go. Having worked for more than 25 already in aged care. I now have to retire from nursing and have a career change. I can no longer volunteer as I planned and I am not the only one leaving because of this mandate there are at least 5 that will stop working in September. So that equates to atleast 25 shifts of nursing in aged care that have to be refilled by new staff. There are staffing shortages already as we struggle to fill the 15 shifts daily to care for 36 residents. Politicians keep blaming the aged care sector for Covid deaths, and now they blame unvaccinated workers for bring it in. These last 18 months we have all been so strict with our internal lockdowns and visitor restrictions, regardless of political enforced lockdowns, we have had less cold and flu episodes both within our residents and within our own staff. We have kept the “bugs” out by highlighting if you have symptoms or sense of malaise don’t come in. We no longer have the situation where a an eldely persons son or daughter come in to see them on a sick day off work, “I have to see mum, I feel awful and she will make me feel better with her lovely hugs” Then in the following weeks people wonder why other residents have colds. Don’t blame us while we go without sleep and stay awake and on duty all night looking after all our frail residents, stop them from falling; encourage them to sleep; comfort them when they are lonely; comfort them while they are Palliative; we are there in place of their loved ones. It is a Global Pandemic not a Epidemic in Aged Care homes only, don’t make us your scapegoats, you politicians don’t have any idea what you are going through, you now rely on health experts, and those health experts you rely on never had to deal with the tasks any staff within a nursing home have had to do. And we all keep doing it with a smile on our faces for our residents, so treat us with some respect and let us have a choice, otherwise you might as well be a dictatorship, by mandating us all. You have killed nursing homes now, we will lose nurses, we will lose future volunteers and you have scared our managers to think they don’t have the numbers, even they have forgotten our key nursing focus “The right medication” (vaccinations are not for all) and “The right to refuse”. Scomo you might as well (edited) request salutes. Same goes for NSW premier, she wasn’t doing her job fast enough when the cruise ships landed, and she still can’t explain what “essential shopping” is.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here