Aged care operators have warned the sector remains in crisis due to COVID-19 despite supply problems with critical protective equipment and rapid tests slightly improving.
As aged care minister Richard Colbeck continues to come under pressure over his handling of the portfolio during the Omicron wave, peak bodies say critical support measures for workers have not been provided.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney said issues at residential facilities during the pandemic had been exacerbated by the Omicron variant.
“That’s resulting in significant pressure on an already stressed and distressed system and has, sadly, human impacts when we don’t have the people on the front line,” he told ABC News.
“What we are seeing with the pandemic is magnifying all of those issues to the point of crisis.”
While Rooney said there were signs of improvement for supplies of rapid antigen tests and personal protective equipment, more needed to be done.
“We’ve seen shortages and sporadic supply from the national stockpile all while (Omicron) is going on,” he said.
“As we saw the Omicron wave continue, and these outbreaks grow, we found that there was not enough rapid antigen testing even available to deal with outbreak sites, let alone all other (aged care) homes.”
There are now more than 1000 aged care homes nationally that are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, with more than 500 aged care deaths due to the pandemic since the start of the year.
The minister in charge, Richard Colbeck, has denied the sector is in crisis but is under mounting pressure to resign.
It comes after the minister defended his decision not to attend a Senate committee meeting on COVID-19 and instead attend the Ashes Test match in Hobart on the same day.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has called on the minister to step down.
“If Richard Colbeck does not resign … the prime minister should sack him,” he said.
“(Colbeck) is simply incapable of fulfilling the task of looking after the interests of old, vulnerable Australians.”
It was revealed this week that one-third of fully vaccinated aged care residents had not yet received their booster dose, despite vaccination teams visiting 99 per cent of facilities across the country.
Thursday was one of the deadliest days of the pandemic in Australia, with 83 fatalities reported, including 38 in NSW and 34 in Victoria.