Queensland health minister Yvette D’Ath has rejected federal aged care services minister Richard Colbeck’s claims that the sector isn’t in crisis.
D’Ath said the mistreatment of residents, low nurse-to-patient ratios and the casualisation of the low-paid workforce need to be dealt with.
“I am still concerned about whether residents are being locked in their rooms, whether they’re being adequately cared for and checked on,” she said.
“I think it’s horrifying there could be one nurse to 120-130 residents in aged care facilities.
“If you talk to workers in the aged care sector, and you’ll find it hard to do that because they’re pretty scared to speak up because most of them are casual, that was occurring before COVID.”
D’Ath also said Colbeck expressing concerns during the current Senate estimates, about Jeta Gardens, south of Brisbane where 16 residents have died, was surprising as she heard the regulator raised concern about the facility in August 2021.
“I’m a little bit surprised it’s to come out of a Senate committee questioning, as I understand it, around Jeta Gardens, for suddenly them to be concerned about this facility,” she said.
The Commonwealth should probe all aged care facilities rather than just six, D’Ath said, as many of the issues were not created by the pandemic but exacerbated by it.
“They have dropped the ball all the way through, and COVID has just shone a light on that,” she said on Thursday.
Queensland has recorded 39 COVID-19 deaths, the most recorded in a single day of the pandemic.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said the deaths did not all occur in the previous 24 hours with 27 of them historical, occurring as far back as mid-January.
He said one of the dead was aged in their 50s, five were in their 60s, 10 in their 70s, 12 in their 80s, 10 in their 90s and one was over 100.
Five were unvaccinated, two had received one jab and 16 were double dosed. Two had received a booster vaccine, while the vaccine status of the others was unavailable.
Gerrard said 21 of the 39 deaths were aged care residents, with 229 of Queensland’s 438 pandemic deaths in aged care.