“I’D RATHER BE DEAD” THE SAD INDICTMENT OF THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN ON AGED CARE IN AUSTRALIA

elderly in care dying of coronavirus

Australia’s Royal Commission into COVID-19 aged care death rates highlights one of the worst breakdowns seen in the care of the elderly.

With one of the world's highest death rates occurring inside aged care facilities; 68 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in Australia are in aged care, the sad fact is that there was no plan to prevent it.

Currently, there are 1756 active cases of Coronavirus across 122 aged care facilities in Victoria, with the total number of deaths linked to aged care at 138 and this figure is rising.

The current outbreak at St Basil's Home for the Aged in Fawkner, Victoria has now recorded 171 cases. It has been revealed that the aged care watchdog knew about the centre's first case but failed to notify the Federal Government and then another four days passed before a response was launched.

The commissioners have heard that aged care facilities were overwhelmed and did not have a plan to deal with a Coronavirus outbreak. When residents tested positive to the virus they were treated in their rooms to try and stop the spread, but as this quickly became evident it was not the best option to prevent the spread of the virus.

Unfortunately, care facilities are also battling staff shortages, one told the commission how they had experienced an 87  per cent reduction in their workforce. Residents told the commission that they felt that if coronavirus didn’t kill them, then lack of care would.

The shortage of trained staff meant that residents were being left in their rooms with some being reported as malnourished, unwashed, neglected and many had not been given prescribed medication as there was no qualified staff on hand to administer it.

Peter Rozen QC, senior counsel assisting the royal commission, said, "The evidence will reveal neither the Commonwealth Department of Health nor the aged care regulator developed a COVID-19 plan specifically for the aged care sector".

The suggestion that elderly Australians should be Coronavirus sacrifices to avoid an economically punishing lockdown has been described by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as not only amoral but hideous.

The danger is of course that New Zealand may be equally overwhelmed with a COVID-19 second wave. Locking down facilities is one thing, keeping staff safe is vital so that residents receive continuity of care during lockdown is equally important.

To see the latest numbers in Victoria click here