Calls for all states to hospitalise aged residents with COVID-19

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State governments are being urged to guarantee automatic hospitalisation of aged care residents with COVID-19, in line with South Australia and Queensland policies.

Aged care providers and industry groups say the deadly outbreaks in Victoria and NSW nursing facilities will be repeated unless all state governments agree to hospitalise residents who test positive to the virus.

The Queensland Government followed South Australia’s lead in adopting the procedure on Monday.

The Royal Commission heard this week that NSW Health resisted transferring COVID-19-positive residents at Newmarch House to hospitals because it wanted to avoid setting a precedent.

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO Patricia Sparrow said it’s not about precedent, “it’s about saving people’s lives”.

“Transfer to hospital provides the best treatment for individuals and the best chance to contain the spread of the virus in an aged care home as the Royal Commission has heard, based on the experience of Dorothy Henderson Lodge,” Ms Sparrow said.

“There are two states, South Australia and Queensland, which have committed to it, and we really don’t understand why other states wouldn’t.”

A Uniting NSW.ACT spokesperson said hospitalisation of positive cases would help break the chain of infection within aged care homes, giving facilities time to ensure adequate staffing.

“The vast majority of aged care providers agree – and Uniting NSW.ACT residents and their families expect – that aged care residents who test positive to COVID-19 should be transferred to hospital for treatment,” he told AAP.

The group, which has about 5,500 residents in its 72 aged care homes across NSW and the ACT, says managing outbreaks within the homes is costly, inefficient and potentially fatal.