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Monday, May 23, 2022

Hour-long webinar briefs RACFs on roles and time scales of ADF deployment

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Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) joined forces on Monday to provide advice to residential aged care providers regarding the deployment of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

It was clarified by Nicole Jarvis PSM, federal health department first assistant secretary, that the promised deployment of 1700 officers will be staggered across eight weeks.

This comes as little comfort to any of the providers overseeing any of the 645 active outbreaks within RACFs across the country, with 2572 workers still off work, actively battling the virus.

Teams of ADF personnel are intended to replace the skills necessary for viable function of a RACF, including registered and enrolled nurses.

Lieutenant Commander Tom Miller emphasised that personnel would be adequately qualified, passing both police checks and NDIS screening processes.  

“We will meet or exceed what the expectations of the facility are… and they are all triple dosed in their vaccinations.”

Heather Gray OAM, a Victorian aged care executive, spoke of the difference the assistance made to the residents in her RACF.

“Our life was changed,” she remarked, holding back tears.

“We’ve noticed a remarkable difference in such a short period of time.

“I’ve got nothing but praise and thank you for these beautiful, beautiful people…”

Furthermore, she suggested ongoing community engagement should become a fixture of defence force services.

“I think they should get training in aged care… they’ve made such a difference… we could have them forever!”

 

Heather Gray OAM speaks at the LASA/ACSA online webinar about the positive impact ADF personnel (pictured left) have made on the wellbeing of residents within her residential aged care home in Melbourne.

Brigadier Brendan Casey, deputy commander with the ADF, expressed his personnel’s commitment to the rollout.

“I just want to extend my empathy to all of you… we in the defence force are keen to help you as best as we can.”

Question-time segment opened the floor to some hard-hitting questions, including whether government and defence had considered the impact of military uniforms on aged care residents who had sustained wartime-related trauma.

“We will only go in [to facilities] in uniform at this stage…” Casey replied.

Miller added that ADF personnel are given extensive cultural-sensitivity training before arriving on-site.

Another webinar attendee questioned why the information sessions has taken so long, coming three weeks after the initial government announcement.

Jane Bacot-Kilpatrick, LASA executive officer and convener of the webinar. explained that the session was attributable to ACSA and LASA’s commitment to outreach, with a reminder that the peak bodies and the department would be specifically reaching out to RACFs that were believed to be particularly vulnerable.

More about ADF support for RACFs

The Australian Defence Force has personnel in all jurisdictions to support residential aged care facilities impacted by COVID-19.

Support available to RACFs is in two main forms, medical teams and general duties teams.

Providers unsure about their entitlement to support should contact the commonwealth case management team in their state or territory

Configuration, duties and duration of deployment can be adapted to meet providers’ specific needs.

Teams of ADF personnel including Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and general duties can be deployed to RACFs to supplement both clinical and non-clinical workforce.

These teams are generally deployed for a one-week duration.

Configurations of these teams can be flexible to meet the RACFs needs.

Teams of ADF general duties personnel can also assist with non-clinical duties such as:

· resident communication with families

· companionship

· meal delivery

· general cleaning

· staff and visitor screening

· administration and logistics.

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