16 Aug 2020

Push for aged care staff to be tested on site

1:57 pm on 16 August 2020

The Aged Care Association is calling for Covid-19 tests to be made available for staff in rest homes.

Unrecognizable health visitor and a senior woman during home visit. A nurse giving tea to an elderly woman sitting at the table. Close up.

There are 25,000 staff across 650 rest homes in New Zealand. Photo: 123RF

Currently if a staff member requires a test they need to go to their GP or a community testing centre.

Association chief executive Simon Wallace said a lot of time will be saved if staff are tested at rest homes.

"We're really pushing for test kits to be in rest homes so staff can be tested by the registered nurses that work in the facilities.

"It's hard to put a number on how many tests would be needed but we have around 25,000 staff across 650 rest homes in New Zealand so we would need a large amount," Wallace said.

Some rest homes already have testing kits but the approach is not universal, he said.

"We've had some really good discussions with the Ministry of Health this week but we have a couple more things to figure out so we might have a decision next week."

All rest homes in New Zealand are under a self-imposed level 4 lockdown due to the current outbreak in Auckland.

Wallace said those in the Auckland area will remain at level 4 until 26 August, the rest of the country will be reassessed on Monday.

"We understand it's difficult for families and residents, however, we have very hard-working staff who take care of the residents and are doing everything to ensure they have contact with family members.

"In reassessing the lockdown we want assurances that there is no community transmission and that all rest homes have adequate PPE," he said.

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