Aged care nurses left waiting for acute placements due to COVID-19: operators say they need a solution

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COVID-19 has significantly impacted face-to-face training for aged care staff – including placements for nurses in training – leaving providers to fill the gap and putting further pressure on the existing workforce.

Damien Malone (pictured right), Operations Manager at The Village Glen on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, says lockdown restrictions have severely affected their ability to train aged care staff in the past 18 months.

The operator uses a training organisation to train staff in the facility, but it was put on hold as they could not have the trainers on site.

The other issue is that their aged care nurses have been unable to complete their final hospital placements due to the pandemic.

The Group now has six staff working in other roles that are completely qualified in nursing apart from an acute placement.

“There’s up to a six month wait for an acute placement,” said Damien.

“Clearly there’s a shortage across the industry. We then have people with a skillset that we can’t get registered and therefore we can’t use that skillset.”

This means they must rely on agency staff and their current staff to fill higher-end clinical roles, he adds, which is putting further pressure on workers.

“The staff are tired, they’re working overtime, they’re working double shifts to make sure that we’ve got capacity care for our residents and provide the high level of care that we expect,” said Damien.

The Village Glen has advocated to LASA and Greg Hunt’s office for a limited registration or an exemption to enable the affected RNs to work in aged care until they get their acute placement.

“There’s a lot of discussion, but we need the Government to do something,” Damien concluded.

“I think they need to look at reopening the borders and having some special programs to bring in people who can partner with providers that can run training and that to train some more workforce so that we can fill the shortfall.”

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