Aged Care Minister apologises to virus victims’ families in “grim” conversation – as sector hits back at accreditation threats over PPE

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Senator Richard Colbeck has described his Zoom conversation with up to 100 relatives of Victorian aged care residents who have died of COVID-19 on Thursday night as “pretty grim” as the state recorded four more deaths yesterday related to aged care.

“They were obviously upset, they were distressed, some of them were angry, they were looking for answers about some of the events that had occurred,” he told the Nine Network.

Senator Colbeck said he was sorry for what the Victorian families were going through, but pointed to shortages of personal carers in the state with more than 1,030 healthcare employees infected with the virus – 400 of those being aged care workers.

The meeting came amid reports of bodies being left in beds for several hours in one aged care home, and families being unable to speak to relatives before they died.

Aged care providers have also hit back at Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s threat to mark down homes that fail to enforce PPE procedures, arguing the Federal Government has not provided enough funding to improve infection control.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) chief executive Sean Rooney said the Government should focus on what aged care homes are doing to protect residents and staff rather than “pointing the finger at them”.

“We have done everything we possibly can to mitigate the risk of the virus in aged care homes but no matter what we do to reduce that risk our greatest fear of community transmission and the risk of that spreading into homes is playing out,” Mr Rooney told The Daily RESOURCE.

Mr Rooney said the Victorian outbreak had stretched all existing resources in aged care homes due to the rapid pace and unexpected scale of community transmission.