Viv Allanson of the Not For Profit Maroba Aged Care in Newcastle says she will not reduce their lockdown measures until the situation improves further, citing figures that there have only been 339 complaints about visitor restrictions – representing around 0.18% of aged care residents.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison personally took a complaint from a family member of one of Maroba’s residents to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC). The individual has also taken their complaint to the Human Rights Commission.
But Viv, an RN with 45 years’ experience, says: “We have to balance this with other residents who say ‘don’t let up, we feel safe’.”
The CEO says the PM has offered no assurances that have made her change Maroba’s risk assessment.
“He’s saying that the risk is low but the outcome [if they have an outbreak]will still be catastrophic.”
In particular, the CEO says she has major concerns around the availability of staff and PPE.
Viv estimates that if they were to experience an outbreak, Maroba only has enough PPE for two days at the most, and while the Government has promised staffing support through online platform Mable, their research shows it has just 16 Certificate III workers in their areas.
“I don’t know if they have had any aged care experience,” she said. “Now that doesn’t give any provider the confidence that a surge workforce is available.”
Maroba has already had a number of staff go on sick leave after being tested and while the tests have proved negative, Viv says their workforce is already under pressure as a result.
Viv is also concerned about access to cleaning supplies because supply chains have dried up – for example, they have just spent just $9,500 on 300 litres of hand sanitiser (that’s $32 a litre).
The CEO also emphasises that they are following the Government guidance and supporting families to make end-of-life and palliative care visits, with one woman spending three nights sleeping on a bed in her mother’s room.
Maroba has also set up its own isolation wing and is continuing to do risk assessments every day.
“When we feel it’s the right time, we will change our plans,” she said. “We’re not being bloody-minded here. We are clinical professionals.”
Viv says she has received support from all over Australia for her stance, and also feels supported by the Quality Commission – but reiterates that she will not be bullied by the PM or the relative in question.
“If the PM think this is an approach that will lift the morale of sector, he gets a zero for leadership.”
Viv says while the Royal Commission has found some providers have not met standards, she feels all are treated the same way and it is time for change.
“If you want a different aged care service, you have to start treating people in a different way,” she said.
“I hope the families and the media will rally and the community will ask what kind of nation have we got ourselves into?”