State-run homes among those in ‘cruel’ COVID-19 lockdown
GOVERNMENT-run aged care homes have been told to end their COVID-19 lockdowns and reopen to visitors after an embarrassing revelation they were among the facilities labelled "cruel" by the Premier.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison also hit out at aged care homes banning visitors, declaring the Federal Government would intervene to make it mandatory for each resident to be allowed two visitors a day if facilities continued the lockdowns.
Queensland's Director-General of Health was yesterday scrambling to contact all 16 state-run homes after The Courier-Mail inquired into why at least six of them were not allowing visitors, despite threats to name and shame offending centres by a "shocked and concerned" Annastacia Palaszczuk.
The Courier-Mail found six homes run by Queensland Health had a COVID-19 no-visitors policy after readers complained the Premier did not know her own government-run homes were also in lock down.
A spokesman for the Premier said Director-General John Wakefield had now contacted every state-run home to tell them there was no health advice allowing them to refuse visitors and the issue needed to be resolved by the end of the day.
The Townsville and Darling Downs Hospital and Health Services (HHS) had both been advising that no one could visit their homes.
Affected homes included the 110-bed Eventide Residential Aged Care home at Charters Towers and the 70-bed Parklands facility at Thuringowa.
The 14-bed Milton House at Miles, Mt Lofty Heights Nursing Home at Toowoomba and The Oaks at Warwick, both with 40 beds, and the 71-bed Dr EAF McDonald Nursing Home at Oakey were also impacted.
"The outbreak of any virus in an aged care facility can cause significant problems," a message from the Darling Downs HHS said.
"As part of our efforts to manage the spread of coronavirus, and to protect our most vulnerable, we are no longer permitting visitors to our residential care facilities."
A note from the Townsville HHS says it has stopped all visitors to aged care facilities until further notice to ensure the safety of patients and staff.
Chief Health Office Dr Jeannette Young had earlier said she couldn't force any aged care homes to open themselves up to visitors but she was "strongly encouraging" it.
"When this was all unfolding they looked at what the risks were and they took decisions to best protect their residents.
"Now that we don't have those increasing numbers of cases and we're not seeing that community spread, I think they can all go back and look at those things that they put in place and see if they're still necessary.
"Because it is so important that all the members of society can still engage with their families."
Ms Palaszczuk earlier said she would raise the idea of naming and shaming homes in full lock down at National Cabinet.
"I am extremely shocked and concerned that there are aged care homes which are saying to relatives; you can't come and visit," she told the Courier-Mail on Thursday.
"That is callous. It displays a lock of compassion and a lack of basic human decency."
Mr Morrison said nursing homes would have to argue why they had a "very real and serious medical reason" to need a tighter lockdown.
"It's not my inclination to explore that sort of regulatory approach, but if it's necessary then we'll do it," he said.
He said it was important family members can support their loved ones.
"The very clear medical advice that we have is that these visits are quite safe when they're done in the right circumstances," he said.
Originally published as State-run homes among those in 'cruel' COVID-19 lockdown