“Air of bullying”: Ciarán Foley slams Government and health authorities over COVID aged care advice

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The Allambie Heights Village Ltd. CEO has backed Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Rozen QC’s assessment that the Federal Government had left operators under-prepared for the pandemic, saying he receives conflicting advice on a daily basis from a range of agencies.

In an open letter, the CEO criticises the “hundreds of thousands of bureaucratic public servants sitting at home punching out directives and threats on their laptops to RACF Operators/Approved Providers, our managers and staff about what we should be doing and what will happen to us if we don’t do something in an ‘air of bullying’ and quite frankly unsupportive, unhelpful and often unclear or contradictory messages”, noting that he currently receives daily emails regarding COVID-19 from:

  • The Commonwealth Department of Health;
  • NSW Health;
  • The Prime Minister;
  • The Federal Minster of Health;
  • The Federal Minister of Ageing and Sport;
  • The Medical Advisor to the Federal Government;
  • The NSW Premier;
  • The NSW Minister of Health and Medical Research;
  • The Medical Advisor to the NSW Premier;
  • The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC);
  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission;
  • The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety;
  • NSW Public Health Unit (PHU);
  • Northern Sydney Local Health District;

“And thankfully from the Peak Industry Body, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), of which our Company is a Member. And perhaps a few more bodies which I have reasonably forgotten at time of writing.”

This is a critical point – with such a high volume of messages, is it a surprise providers report being confused or overwhelmed by advice?

“Maybe now, the Federal Government will listen and address our Aged Care Industry Workforce issues, provide the injection of money required to our Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) and Home Care, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as the clarity of leadership regarding COVID-19 that has been sadly missing across Australia for weeks now,” Ciarán concludes.

The CEO also slams the lack of PPE supplies from the Department of Health and State health authorities unless a facility is experiencing a COVID outbreak.

“And how and why is it that the Commonwealth Department of Health and State Health Departments don’t know and have not asked RACFs and Home Care Operators how much PPE an Operator currently holds in stock? This is a remarkably quick exercise to conduct,” he said.

“Instead, the Government bodies have relinquished responsibility to conduct the most important ‘stock take’ in modern history against an infectious disease and left Aged Care Operators, over 60% who are in financial distress to compete against each other in a scramble to PPE suppliers, some suppliers whom have engaged in profiteering during a crisis with higher pricing of PPE!”

Ciarán also called on the Government to make sure COVID infected residents receive treatment in hospital, noting that the Government and States and Territories have had months to plan for higher hospital admissions.

“Time for them to now serve us and Australia’s older citizens who have the same human rights to receive hospital care as a younger Australian expects and receives,” he said.

“We did not need a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety if Government public servants and politicians had listened to what had to be changed and developed over decades, in my view. But we have it and our Industry looks forward to its contribution to recommend changes to the system,” he concludes.

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