Nurses union urges govt to do more to protect aged care residents and staff

Lori-Anne Sharp, ANMF Acting Federal Secretary

As the Omicron variant spreads through aged care facilities, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), has expressed its concern that the Morrison Government has no real plan to protect vulnerable nursing home residents and staff during the pandemic.

With almost 1,400 residents and just over 1,800 staff currently classified as active cases, the ANMF has today expressed concern that hundreds of private aged care facilities are still waiting for booster vaccinations and rapid antigen tests (RAT).

Inside Ageing reported on December 6 concerns held by providers regarding the lack of clarity around booster vaccinations.


COVID-positive isolation regulations have also led to chronic staff shortages and dangerously excessive workloads, with increasing numbers of residents forced to be locked in their rooms without visitors. Dangerously low staffing levels are leading to missed care. ANMF members are reporting only three staff for up to 120 residents in some cases.

“With Omicron spreading so rapidly throughout the community, our frontline nurses and carers are completely exhausted and burnt out, they’ve been crying out for help, but yet again, the Morrison Government has abandoned aged care residents and staff,” ANMF Acting Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp, said today.

“We’re dismayed that despite the tragedies in aged care during previous outbreaks, the Government has decided to stand-back and ‘let it rip’, without securing proper supplies of vital booster shots, RATs and personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing homes. The Morrison Government should have been more prepared. It’s like nothing has been learnt from the second wave in 2020 when tragically, 678 lives were lost.”

The ANMF says the Federal Government has completely failed to plan for adequate surge workforce capacity and invest in staff despite knowing the chronic understaffing that has overwhelmed the sector for a decade and further highlighted by the Aged Care Royal Commission.

“Sadly, it’s apparent that nursing homes aren’t prepared for the Omicron wave, even though back in August, Minister Hunt declared that RAT would be available in aged care facilities. As we know, RAT, in particular, is a useful tool in risk control and the lack of RATs is resulting in chronic staff shortages and putting nurses, carers, and the elderly residents they care for, at further risk of contracting COVID-19 and missing out on urgently needed care regardless of COVID-19 status,” Ms Sharp said.

“We’re urging the Morrison Government to act as a matter of urgency and ensure that aged care residents and staff get the protection they so desperately need in the face of this latest COVID-19 wave. Staff, residents and their families deserve so much more.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I am a very experienced RN of many years.I do very well under pressure and love the challenges the most! But currently in RN Night Manager in a 120 bed home . I have one En and care staff.- This morning after emotionally breaking down – it was my 10 night shift and I came in on my nights off because I knew the situation was unmanageable for one RN of 1 year . – 40 positive covid residents- As well as being responsible for another 13 covid positive- personally I have 27 sets of 2 hourly vitals – that’s 108 – that 108 changes of complete Head to toe PPE thats108 drinks of water given – pillows fixed and comfort given – Panadol -o2 sourced and put on and checked on as much as possible- then enter the 108 vitals on I care with -108 passwords and progress not for any abnormalities and there always are….- I emptied enough PPE clinal waste to fill six large Wast bins – bags 108 sets of vital to put on I care every two hours – and I didn’t get to pee or drink more the half a cup of coffee- as I write this my body is just aching from all the 108 Hands over my head to tie up my gown and then rip it of – sore sore acts good 7/10 . Is that okay on any level to you.

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