The Health Services Union (HSU) is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to fund a ‘home guard’ style system, which would allow everyday Australians to provide support to the overwhelmed aged care sector.
The emergency initiative, similar to the Volunteer Defence Corps deployed during World War II, would help alleviate pressure on exhausted staff and provide a way for Australians who can and want to help to do so.
It comes on top of requests from aged care providers and unions today to deploy the Australian Defence Force to support the sector and provide staff with an additional direct payment.
HSU national president Gerard Hayes said the sector is in the middle of an unprecedented crisis and requires immediate assistance.
“Conditions for both staff and residents are deteriorating rapidly as COVID cases in aged care continue to rise,” Hayes said.
“We are hearing horrific reports from our members.
“Some facilities are so short staffed residents aren’t being showered for days. Others are experiencing food supply issues.
“The majority of staff are exhausted and many are quitting. It is an unmitigated catastrophe.
Hayes said the Morrison Government had failed to prepare, before ‘letting Omicron rip’ and what is happening is the disastrous result.
“The Prime Minister could help fix this crisis now by paying everyday Australians to provide support to aged care facilities in roles which don’t require training such as food delivery,” Hayes said.
“Australians could become ‘community angels’, helping facilities in dire need of assistance, particularly in regional and remote areas.
“The Morrison Government needs to do whatever it takes to relieve pressure on aged care.
Hayes said Rapid Antigen Tests should also be made free and available to all and the sourcing of adequate Personal Protective Equipment for all workers should be made a priority.
“Overworked, modestly-paid staff and aged care residents, who helped build this country, deserve better,” he said.