Aged care facilities will now have to employ on-site infection control officers to receive COVID-19 prevention funding as new data has revealed the federal regulator did not enforce national infection prevention standards in some homes until tragically late.

A timeline recently provided to the Senate’s COVID-19 committee has shown the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission issued 13 Victorian residential facilities with “notices to agree” in the five months to August 4, however 10 facilities had outbreaks of the disease when the action was taken.

St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Melbourne already had reported 51 cases of COVID-19 when it received a “notice to agree”. CREDIT: JASON SOUTH

The notice, officially called a Notice of Requirement to Agree to Certain Matters, sets out terms the provider must immediately implement to address compliance failures before its accreditation will be withdrawn.

By the time St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Melbourne’s north received a notice on July 21, the centre already had 51 cases of COVID-19 in an outbreak that would kill more than 30.

Estia Health in Ardeer, issued a notice on July 26th and reported 68 cases, two days earlier and Epping Gardens, which had 82 cases on July 28th, received a notice that day.

Across the 10 aged care facilities issued with notices after experiencing outbreaks, a total of 403 residents had been infected with the COVID-19 virus and 75 have died.

Aged Care Minister, Richard Colbeck, recently announced on Monday that as part of a $563.4 million aged care funding extension, residential providers would each have to employ an infection control officer to be on site in order to access the federal government’s COVID-19 supplement.

The payment amounts to $975 per resident in metropolitan areas and about $1,435 elsewhere. It is unclear when the staff will have to be in place, but the funding is due to flow from early October.

Colbeck was unable to indicate how many aged care workers were still moving between multiple facilities in Victoria, more than a month after a “one worker, one site” policy was announced.


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