Royal Commission hears on COVID-19 aged care outbreaks – “The greatest challenge the Australian aged care sector has ever faced”

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The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety resumed on Monday, with the spotlight shifting to the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19.

The hearings, covered extensively in our newsletter The Daily Commission, are examining the sector’s preparedness for the pandemic, and the balancing of infection control with quality of life.

In his opening address, Peter Rozen QC described COVID-19 as the greatest challenge the Australian aged care has ever faced.

“We all watched with horror the stories of large-scale death in what are called long term care homes in the Northern hemisphere in February and March of this year. The Australian aged care sector and the government agencies that fund and regulate it were on notice about the particular vulnerability of the elderly residents in our own care homes,” he said.

“More recently we have seen the unfolding disaster in more than 100 of Victoria’s nursing homes. According to the daily data released by the Australian Government Department of Health, between 8 July and yesterday, over 1,000 residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19.  Of these people, 168 have died. Grandparents, parents, siblings and friends. A human tragedy.”

The hearings intend to discover lessons that can be learnt for responding to future emergencies but, as we reported, the Commission will not specifically examine Victorian outbreaks.

Hearings will continue today.

For in-depth analysis and a daily update of the key developments from our editor Lauren Broomham, subscribe to The Daily Commission here.