Nursing homes not in need of Defence Force assistance

Local aged care organisations have welcomed the news that Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will be able to support staff if work shortages intensify.

No local organisations have received that assistance yet which has been made available on an ‘as-needed’ basis.

CEO of Peninsula Villages, Colin Osborne, said the organisation did not require any ADF assistance yet.

“Peninsula Villages does not currently require this assistance from the Australian Defence Force as we are not seeing those high levels of workforce shortages,” Osborne said.

“It is of my understanding that it on the organisation to request that assistance when needed.

“However, as the colder months approach and if we experience a hard flu season, we may see those shortages coming to the forefront.”

CEO of BlueWave Living, Matthew Downie, said it was “great to see some support being offered to the industry.

“Workforce challenges which have impacted our industry for years have been significantly exacerbated by this latest Omicron outbreak and the industry has been requesting such emergency additional assistance for the last couple of months,” Downie said.

He said it was “very unlikely” the assistance would be offered to the Woy Woy organisation.

“We are not high risk, nor have high levels of workforce shortages compared to what others are currently facing in our industry,” he said.

“We have not received any communication about the program – only what has been published in the media.

“I understand from media reports up to 1,700 ADF personal to support Residential Aged Care Nationally – that is a very small number of staff in reality.

“There are currently close to 300,000 people employed directly in residential aged care – so that represents an input of around 0.5 per cent of current total staff numbers.

“Whilst we are having workforce challenges, they are relatively minor compared to some other organisations in our industry.”

Over 9,800 RAT kits have been dispatched to Residential Aged Care Facilities in the Robertson electorate so far.

Federal Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks, said Defence would deploy Quick Response Support Teams which would consist of nurses and general support staff.

“ADF personnel will assist with logistics, general tasks and other duties where qualified,” Wicks said.

“This could mean screening of entrants to facilities, providing companionship to residents, supporting with meals and other non-direct care functions to take the pressure off qualified aged care workers and medical staff.

“Under an agreement with private hospitals, additional staff are being made available for aged care and the changes to furloughing guidance is providing additional capacity.”

It’s understood the Federal Government provides a case management team seven days a week to support facilities in outbreak.

This includes participating in outbreak management team meetings where required (and invited by the Local Health District) and connecting the facility with necessary Commonwealth support services, including: a dedicated case manager for high risk outbreak sites, RAT kits, PCR testing via Sonic, PPE from the National Medical Stockpile, and access to the online agency portal to request surge workforce, or deployed staff for high risk outbreaks with critical workforce shortages.

Up to 1,700 ADF personnel have been made available to deploy to aged care organisations across Australia.

These support teams will include a number of roles including team leaders, registered and enrolled nurses, and supporting personnel.

The placement of personnel will be made in consultation with the Department of Health.

Maisy Rae