AMA calls for urgent risk assessment of all aged care homes

20 Aug 2020

Urgent improvements in aged care and a coordinated response by Federal, State, and Territory governments are needed to prevent the pandemic outbreak in Victorian aged care homes spreading into residential aged care nationwide, the AMA warned. 

In its seventh submission to the Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety, the AMA called for every residential aged care home in Australia to be urgently and comprehensively assessed for its ability to safely care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Aged care was in crisis long before the pandemic started, and the failures of clinical care and clinical governance in aged care homes have simply been amplified by COVID-19,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said. 

“AMA members are on the frontline of providing health care to older Australians in residential aged care, and they are witnessing first-hand the impact that the global pandemic is having on some of our most vulnerable community members, and on their families and loved ones.” 

Dr Khorshid highlighted the care can’t wait campaign, launched by the AMA in conjunction with the nursing profession calling for urgent changes to our aged care system. 

“Had our calls and recommendations over the past decade been heeded and implemented, we would not be facing the crisis to the extent we are currently seeing in aged care in Victoria,” Dr Khorshid said.  

“The pandemic has laid bare the issues and deficiencies of our aged care system - deficiencies that have resulted in unnecessary suffering for so many Australian families, and so many preventable deaths of our oldest and most vulnerable.” 

In the submission, the AMA has said to prevent any further escalation, urgent, comprehensive, coordinated risk assessments must be carried out at every residential aged care home to ensure that they can safely manage risk, infected residents, and to understand their capacity to treat to residents within the facility. 

The AMA has already written to the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, the Department of Health, and the Commission outlining serious concerns around COVID-19 in aged care and recommendations for improvement. The AMA will continue to do this until we see proper action. 

The AMA’s seventh submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is available here 

Read the full media release here