Nursing home care crisis as Omicron runs rampant

Residents locked in their rooms as desperate staff shortages hit aged care facilities

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MISSED CARE: ANMF warns of care crisis in nursing homes.

MISSED CARE: ANMF warns of care crisis in nursing homes.

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Nurses claim Government has no plan to protect residents and staff of nursing homes.

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Nurses are reporting three staff members for up to 120 residents in some aged care facilities and residents locked in their rooms without visitors, as the Omicron variant runs rampant through the country.

With almost 1,400 residents and just over 1,800 staff currently classified as active cases, hundreds of private aged care facilities are also still waiting for booster vaccinations and rapid antigen tests (RAT), according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) which has expressed its concern that the Federal Government has no real plan to protect vulnerable nursing home residents and staff during the pandemic.

The ANMF claims COVID-positive isolation regulations have led to chronic staff shortages and dangerously excessive workloads with low staffing levels are leading to missed care.

"With Omicron spreading so rapidly throughout the community, our frontline nurses and carers are completely exhausted and burnt out, they've been crying out for help, but yet again, the Morrison Government has abandoned aged care residents and staff," ANMF Acting Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp, said today.

"We're dismayed that despite the tragedies in aged care during previous outbreaks, the Government has decided to stand-back and 'let it rip', without securing proper supplies of vital booster shots, RATs and personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing homes.

"The Morrison Government should have been more prepared. It's like nothing has been learnt from the second wave in 2020, when tragically, 678 lives were lost."

The ANMF says the Federal Government has completely failed to plan for adequate surge workforce capacity and invest in staff despite knowing the chronic understaffing that has overwhelmed the sector for a decade and further highlighted by the Aged Care Royal Commission.

"Sadly, it's apparent that nursing homes aren't prepared for the Omicron wave, even though back in August, Minister Hunt declared that RAT would be available in aged care facilities.

"As we know, RAT, in particular, is a useful tool in risk control and the lack of RATs is resulting in chronic staff shortages and putting nurses, carers, and the elderly residents they care for, at further risk of contracting COVID-19 and missing out on urgently needed care regardless of COVID-19 status," Ms Sharp said.

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