Bring in the ADF, say embattled aged care providers and unions

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Widespread staffing shortages caused by the latest COVID-19 wave have led aged care providers and unions to call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to bring in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to assist staff on the ground.

The Weekly SOURCE reported yesterday that a medium-sized aged care operator was spending $250,000 for just four weeks’ supply of Rapid Antigen Tests and another was drafting relatives in to help its workforce.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, Health Services Union, United Workers Union and Australian Workers Union also want a return to COVID-19 wage payments for staff.

The Australian Defence Force was brought in by the Federal Government to help administer COVID-19 vaccines to aged care residents in March last year.

The joint statement claims:

  • Aged care staff are burnt out with reports of widespread resignations;
  • The sector is at crisis point and requires immediate ADF support where requested and a COVID-19 payment for all staff; and
  • Resolution of ongoing issues regarding access to RAT and PPE supplies.

“We acknowledge Minister Greg Hunt’s announcement yesterday that private hospital staff may be able to assist aged care. We await more details about how this will operate,” said ACSA CEO Paul Sadler on behalf of the AACC.

“Over a thousand aged care services around Australia are already dealing with an Omicron outbreak. We expect many, many more to be affected over the coming days.

Aged care staff are exhausted and burnt out, with many working for days around the clock.

Resignations due to fatigue and feeling undervalued have begun. This is just the beginning.”

A spokesperson for Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the Australian Defence Force played an important support role in aged care during the outbreak in Victoria in 2020, and the government will continue to monitor the situation as to the supports that may be required.