Unskilled staff with just six weeks training are putting Australia’s grandparents at risk as spate of fatal coronavirus outbreaks in aged care homes leaves hundreds in danger
- Expert days 70 per cent of aged care workers are only qualified with a certificate
- Joseph Ibrahim says it doesn’t prepare them with controlling the deadly virus
- Victoria’s daily increase was 403 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, five deaths
- On Friday, it recorded 300 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths – all in aged care
- Aged care advocate raises concerns about staffing, standards and qualifications
An expert has revealed a significant number of the staffers trying to manage the deadly COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian nursing homes have as little as six weeks training.
Seventy per cent of aged care workers are only qualified with a Certificate III, according to Monash University forensic medicine department health, law and aging research unit head Joseph Ibrahim.
He told The Australian insufficient training failed to prepare staff to be ‘meticulous with infection control’ amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
A Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) teaches students how to provide physical, social and emotional support to the elderly as well as work alongside health professionals.
Victoria recorded a daily increase of 403 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, and five new deaths.
On Friday, it recorded 300 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths.
Monash University forensic medicine department health, law and aging research unit head Joseph Ibrahim said 70 per cent of aged care workers only had a Certificate III qualification
All of Friday’s deaths were elderly people in aged care. The state’s death toll is now 55 and the national toll is 138.
There are 206 Victorians in hospital including 41 in intensive care.
‘I don’t believe the majority of aged-care providers have sufficient infection control nurses on staff or on hand to oversee carers,’ Mr Ibrahim said.
His comments come as Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday warned Victorians more deaths would rock the state.
‘For every thousand people that are positive each day, there will be many hundreds that finish up in hospital and there will be many who die,’ he said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) on Friday warned Victoria more deaths would rock the state
According to the Victoria State Government Health and Human Services on Thursday, 447 COVID-19 cases were linked to 35 aged care sites with active cases.
Seventy-three cases have been linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner; 67 lined to Estia Health in Ardeer; 55 at Menarock Life Aged care in Essendon; 41 at Glendale Aged Care in Werribee; 34 at Estia Health in Heidelberg; and 33 at Arcare Aged Care in Craigieburn.
An additional 21 have been linked to to Baptcare Wyndham Lodge in Werribee; 20 at Embracia Aged Care Moonee Valley in Avondale Heights; 12 at Japara Millward Residential Aged Care in Doncaster East; 11 at Royal Freemasons Gregory Lodge in Flemington; and 10 at Regis Brighton Aged Care.
Aged-care advocate Sarah Russell told The Australian many were concerned about aged care staffing, standards, qualifications and numbers.
Many staffers have been asked to supply their own masks at work as well, she said.
‘They have written to (Aged Care Minister) Richard Colbeck about dangerously low staffing numbers, inadequately trained staff and the lack of PPE and are furious he has seemingly ignored these concerns,’ she said.
Forty-one COVID-19 cases were linked to Glendale Aged Care (pictured) in Werribee, Victoria, as of Thursday
Fifty-five cases of COVID-19 have linked to Menarock Life Aged care in Essendon (pictured) as well
Seventy-three cases were linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged (pictured) in Fawkner on Thursday too
‘Some aged-care companies prioritise profits over care. They employ casual workers, including those on 457 visas. These workers are poorly paid and not entitled to paid leave. And now the chickens have come home to roost’.
Ms Russel’s comments come as Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Stage 3 ‘Stay At Home’ restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire were necessary due to the sharp increase in cases.
‘If you live in these areas, there are only four reasons to leave your home: shopping for food and essential items; care and caregiving; daily exercise; and work and study – if you can’t do it from home,’ he said.
‘These are tough measures, but this virus is not selective – it will impact anyone it encounters, and personal contact is the clear source of its transmission. We need everyone to do their part and ensure it is stopped in its tracks.’