Outbreaks at aged care centres continue to be at the heart of Victoria's coronavirus crisis. Image by David Crosling/AAP PHOTOS

Health

Aged care outbreaks cause five more deaths

2020-07-28 15:16:20

Outbreaks at aged care centres continue to be at the heart of Victoria’s coronavirus crisis, with five more deaths linked to care settings.

The bulk of the 161 deaths in Australia have been people aged over 70, including 67 residents in aged care services.

Five of Victoria’s six deaths on Monday were residents in aged care facilities, as well as seven of the 10 deaths recorded on Sunday.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the outbreaks were a consequence of community transmission and warned more deaths could soon follow. 

“That’s an inescapable fact in these settings where there are outbreaks in aged care the mortality is extremely high.”

Prof Sutton said there were now 84 cases linked to St Basil’s at Fawkner, 82 at Estia Health in Ardeer, 77 at Epping Gardens Aged Care, and 62 at Menarock Aged Care in Essendon.

A further 53 cases have been linked to Glendale Aged Care in Werribee and 57 to Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said outbreaks have occurred at privately-run facilities.

The state government has partnered with the Commonwealth to tackle the challenges overloading aged care during the Victorian outbreak.

The federal government, which has responsibility for the aged care sector, has stepped in at St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner and has set up an emergency response centre with the Victorian government for the wider aged care crisis.

The federal government has set up a call centre for families to access information about their loved ones after widespread confusion.

“It is important to understand that the challenges – and they are significant in the aged care sector – are a reminder that when community transmission occurs with COVID-19, the aged care sector will all be impacted,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Monday.

Melbourne man Nicholas Barboussas was at the weekend told by St Basil’s that his father was in the home and doing well, after he had been told by Northern Hospital hours earlier his father was fighting for life.

Mr Barboussas told Nine’s Today program the family managed to FaceTime with the ill grandfather before he died on Sunday, after Victoria’s official case and toll figures were announced.

Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow fought back tears on Monday as she told reporters of concern for residents and workers.

“I’m scared that it will get worse but I’m hoping that will get better, and we are doubling our efforts as providers to do everything we can to get that result,” she said.

About 30 per cent of the workforce had been impacted by the limit imposed to work in only one facility, making it difficult for some providers to have enough staff, Ms Sparrow said.

She also denounced supply issues that some providers were facing with personal protective equipment.

A United Workers Union survey of 1000 aged care staff released on Monday found workers often had not received additional coronavirus safety training or that their aged care facility did not communicate their infection plan well.

It also found workers have been struggling with staff shortages and increased workloads since the outbreak, with structural issues rife.