Aged care workers missing out on promised RAT tests forcing them to source their own

POV photo of a woman looking at her positive Covid-19 rapid test result showing two lines.

Nurses and carers in aged care are being forced to pay for their own rapid antigen tests (RATs) to work in the sector which is being devastated from COVID-19.

The findings were made by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) who are currently conducting a national survey on the experiences of nurses, midwives, and assistants in nursing/personal care workers regarding COVID-19, testing, isolation/quarantine, vaccines, and current work experiences.

The preliminary findings so far show almost one in five aged care nurses and carers paid for their own RATs, despite the Morrison Government promising back in August 2021, to commence rolling-out RATs to residential aged care facilities to protect workers, residents and their families. Further, 27% reported a ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ testing experience.

My workplace had been an exposure site and then an outbreak site. The government has been slow in distributing rapid antigen testing from the stockpile. Within our community it is difficult to obtain rapid antigen testing.” A survey participant said.

“I worked directly caring for COVID-19 positive residents (6 positive of 15 residents on my floor) and was not tested over 5 shifts as my employer had run out of RATs as they were waiting for a supply from the Commonwealth Government,” another said.

Over 770 health and aged care workers have participated in the survey so far.

The ANMF said it was extremely concerned with the findings given that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to devastate Australia’s nursing homes.

“Aged care is in crisis. Chronic understaffing across the system has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with care staff unable to provide elderly residents with the quality care they need,” ANMF Federal Assistant Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp said.

“Many of our nurses and carers are telling us that they’re still being forced to source and pay for their own RATs due to ongoing supply issues. This is putting further emotional and financial strain on the aged care workers who are already exhausted and burnt out.

“Sadly, it’s another example of the Morrison Government’s failure to plan and respond to a foreseeable crisis in aged care.”

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