Victoria has 430 aged care facilities of which 80 have been affected by COVID-19, some more severely than others.
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews announced 384 new COVID-19 cases overnight in the state, with six deaths of two people in their 90s, three in their 80s and one in their 60s who were from “private sector aged care”.
Premier Andrews sent his “thoughts and prayers” to the families of those who died and offered his condolences.
With 260 people in hospital and 45 in intensive care, Victoria’s Premier announced a suspension of non-elective surgery to ensure that beds are free for those who need them.
“I cannot stand here and tell you I have confidence that staff and management across a number of private sector aged care facilities are able to provide the care that is appropriate to keep their residents safe. If I could say that, I would,” he said, before adding that only the most urgent patients will be treated at hospitals.
“Some of the stories we’ve heard, some of what’s gone on in some of these settings is simply not acceptable and it’s not about blame, it’s not about demarcations and having disputes about who is in charge of what. It’s just about getting on and getting this done.”
Premier Andrews said that not all aged care residents would be moved to hospitals if they test positive to COVID-19, but this will be “based on clinical need.” He said that almost 2,000 residents have been moved into hospitals.
Regarding St Basil’s in Fawkner Premier Andrews said he had sent Victorian government registered nurses there and this would continue.
Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos struggled to hold back tears as she told relatives of residents in private aged care that steps are being taken to ensure they get the clinical care needed. “In some circumstances it will continue to be the safest option for your loved one to stay in that nursing facility but where there is a clinical need we will not hesitate to make sure that your loved one has a hospital bed available to them,” she said.
“We have had already over 170 residents transferred to both public and private hospitals in recent days and there are more transfers that are planned. As I explain it is not always possible to transfer everybody. We have very frail and elderly people in these nursing homes and in some cases they have dementia and it is very challenging and stressful for an elderly person to be moved in those particular circumstances but we will always action the basis of clinical care advice and we have a team of doctors and nurses available from our hospitals who are assisting these nursing homes and assisting the Commonwealth government at this very challenging time,” she said, adding that she has been in contact with some of the families of those affected in recent days and understands the concern of their loved ones.
RECORDED CASES AT AGED CARE FACILITIES
St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner – 86 cases, today
Estia Aged Care Facility in Ardeer – 88 cases, today
Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping – 82 cases, today
Menarock Life Aged Care Facility in Essendon – 62 cases, yesterday
Glendale Aged Care Facility in Werribee – 53 cases, yesterday
Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth – 57 cases, yesterday
Estia Aged Care Facility in Heidelberg – 50 cases, yesterday
Premier Andrews was asked about how accreditation could have been given to the aged care facilities if they were substandard as he has described. In his response he stated that he was neither a commentator or the royal commissioner.
“We do not accredit these places but that is not the issue. Having a demarcation dispute, a finger-pointing exercise between governments is not something I am prepared to do,” he said.
“We have got to get this done and we will get this done in partnership. The key point and the best way to answer this question and any other question that wants to dissect private-sector aged care, we are having a royal commission in this country into this sector and I think that is exactly the right thing to do.”
Some of the stories where we read, stories of what has gone on is completely unacceptable.
Premier Daniel Andrews
Scott Morrison’s address
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal and state governments were working together to resolve the latest outbreaks at aged care facilities in Victoria.
Asked about why it took so long to get workers who travel from one facility to another to stay in one facility, Mr Morrison pointed to the “nature of the workforce” and needs to keep the staff members in their positions to provide care. “Otherwise, those residents would be abandoned and the infiltration of the community spread of the virus through staff has been of particular concern, and it has happened very, very quickly,” he said, adding that “managing the aged care workforce has been very difficult in Victoria”.
The Prime Minister said the standing down of aged care workers due to positive results had caused a “very significant disruption” in aged care, and he also spoke of the complexities in the system which brings together various federal and state departments together.
“The Commonwealth has been working, including with other states, to ensure that we can plug those gaps wherever we possibly can. But I want to be up-front with you – it’s very difficult and it’s very hard to get people into those positions, particularly given the complexity and difficulty of the situations they’re facing. And last night in particular we had ADF officers, nurses, being put into a night shift in a Melbourne facility, and we were able to arrange that quite late in the evening, about 11pm,” Mr Morrison said.