MEDIA RELEASE Another COVID-19 case in an aged care facility has shown the urgent need for the Federal Government to recognise and act on the serious gaps in its measures to protect the workforce and residents.
United Workers Union aged care national director Carolyn Smith says, “Today’s revelation about a nurse falling ill with coronavirus in Queensland is confirmation of what every aged care worker in the country already knows: aged care is a very high-risk environment.
“Aged care workers are on the frontline in this crisis and it is time the Federal Government recognised their sacrifices and addressed their concerns.
“Aged care workers across the country have expressed the need for Special Paid COVID-19 leave to help them stay home if they fear they have symptoms of coronavirus.
“Otherwise workers are left to gamble with their health and the health of the people they care for.
“The silence from the Federal Government on this issue has been deafening.”
Ms Smith said that while COVID-19 leave had been available to workers in some examples of coronavirus spread, the overwhelming majority of aged care workers had no COVID-19 leave to fall back on.
And the widespread understaffing of aged care facilities only increased pressure on all workers, “If an aged care worker has any symptoms they are being forced by a lack of leave and the structure of the industry to make decisions that could have life-or-death outcomes.
“We are left in a situation where workers feel forced to go to work, even if they may not be feeling well.
“It is time for Special Paid COVID-19 leave as a matter of urgency.
“The consequences, as we have seen play out in Sydney’s Newmarch House, are simply too devastating for a delay on this issue.”
Further details on the need for Special Paid COVID-19 available here: www.ourturntocare.com.au/fundmyleave.