Government accepts all recommendations from aged care COVID-19 review

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The Federal Government has accepted all 38 recommendations from the review into residential aged care COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Independent Review of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities outlined nine key lines of defense against COVID-19: built environment and infrastructure; clinical care; effective interagency communication; emergency response; infection prevention and control; leadership, management and governance; planning and preparation; preventing social isolation; and workforce and staff mental health.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt (above), called the review an “important blueprint” for managing the pandemic’s impact.

“The review’s 38 recommendations will help aged care facility administrators better prepare for and respond to future COVID-19 outbreaks and will assist the Government in monitoring and evaluating these measures,” he said.

According to Senator Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, the review is already providing guideposts for protecting residents and workers in NSW, Victoria, and the ACT.

“Importantly, the findings show that while community transmission is the biggest predictor of COVID‑19 outbreaks in aged care settings, effective leadership at all levels is the most critical factor in defending against the virus,” he said.

However, ACSA has voiced its concern with the Government’s response, saying that even with all 38 recommendations accepted, they cannot be implemented without additional resources. Paul Sadler, ACSA CEO (right), says a resource and workforce buffer is needed.

“It’s all very well for the Federal Government to say they will accept all the recommendations but most of the changes require providers to adjust and increase resource-intensive processes.

“Aged care was already up against the wall prior to the pandemic, scraping by and facing serious resource and workforce issues. To guarantee better protection and services for older Australians in the context of disaster, the system needs resilience,” he said.

LASA has also called for a separate independent analysis into Delta, with CEO Sean Rooney calling it a “national priority” to protect older Australians in aged care homes and the staff who look after them.

“We need to ensure that best practices and procedures are based on the latest expert analysis which is why the government must conduct an independent analysis of Delta outbreaks so that we can be prepared,” he said.

The full report is available online.