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‘Desperate calls for staff:’ Victoria takes over three nursing homes

He said they were not the first nursing homes the state government had taken over.

Glenlyn, where most residents have underlying psychiatric conditions, said in an update to family and friends on August 11 that it had pleaded to be able to transfer COVID-19 negative residents out of the facility, or transfer the positive cases that could not be isolated to hospital.

Mr Andrews on Thursday defended the state’s policy not to transfer all COVID-19 positive residents to hospital, saying the decision was driven by “clinical need” and not the convenience of private aged care home providers.

The Premier hit out at one aged care provider who early on in the aged care crisis had ordered 100 ambulances for COVID-19 positive residents “as if that was something that would be in any way feasible”.

Mr Andrews said the decision to transfer residents to hospital was made by doctors exclusively based on clinical need.

“It is very challenging and often quite traumatic and can in fact be tragic if people are without due consideration to their individual circumstances and their clinical need simply moved from one setting, which is their home, to a completely unfamiliar setting, which is a hospital.”

More than 400 aged care residents with COVID-19 had been transferred to hospital and about 1400 shifts at aged care centres had been covered by hospital staff, including nurses from private hospitals, he said.

“In some cases, all of the negative cases have been taken out and have gone to hospital. In some cases, all of the positive cases have been taken out and have gone to hospital. In other cases, it’s a mixture of both.”

The takeovers come as 2018 active cases of COVID-19 were linked to aged care settings in Victoria on Thursday.

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Mr Rooney, whose organisation represents providers of aged care services, welcomed the Victorian government’s support that would see professional staff delivered to maintain the care of the homes’ residents.

“They have been desperately calling for additional staff, in some cases for weeks, with the situation deteriorating rapidly with more and more staff having to go into isolation,” he said.

“LASA has been advocating directly at state and federal health authority level, trying to have staff sent to these homes immediately. However, there appears to be an alarming lack of a surge workforce.”

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Aged and Community Services Australia called on all the states to follow the lead of Queensland and South Australia and transfer aged care residents diagnosed with COVID-19 to hospital.

“Immediate transfer to the hospital of the first people in residential care diagnosed with COVID-19 is the best possible protection measure against the terrible tragedy we are seeing unfold in Victoria,” said CEO Patricia Sparrow.

On Wednesday, Mr Andrews said government-run nursing homes, which have about 5400 beds, had six cases of COVID, a rate of about 0.1 per cent.

In contrast, there had been 1923 cases in non-government homes with 47,000 beds, a rate of four per cent.

Unlike private nursing homes across the country, government-run nursing homes in Victoria and Queensland have mandated staffing ratios requiring at least one nurse on every shift.

With Julie Power

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