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WATCH: How Australia’s long-term care system avoided the COVID-19 crisis


When it involves the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, the comparison between Canada and Australia is shocking. Australia has suffered four deaths per million residents compared to over 212 in Canada.

Canadians have watched in horror as the COVID-19 cost climbed in Canada’s long-term care facilities, now more than 6,000, in line with a CBC News tally. In Australia, that number is just 29, in keeping with Australian public health data.

Greg Shaw, who runs the International Federation on Aging non-profit, is uniquely positioned to check the 2 countries. He lives in Toronto but previously served in senior roles in Australia’s Health Ministry. He points out that Australia’s aged care facilities had a close commit to cater to a plague, while Canada didn’t.

When COVID 19 came to Australia,” he said, “many of the care providers basically locked-down and implemented their pandemic plans for infection control. They stopped families from coming in. They did not have staff functioning from one facility to a different facility, and usually, that’s not the case in Australia anyway.”

In Canada, the very fact that some long-term care workers initially had to search out shifts in multiple facilities to form a living was a  significant contributor to the spread of COVID-19. Since the outbreak intensified, however, provinces have prohibited staff from performing at multiple care homes.  avoided COVID-19 crisis

From CBC Greg Shaw formerly held senior management positions within the Australian Government in the Department Health and Ageing.


One of the most striking differences between Canada and Australia lies in the inspection regime for seniors’ facilities. Australia is far more strict, said Graeme Prior, who runs one the largest for-profit aged care providers in Australia.

He owns dozens of homes and says the inspections of them are rigorous. “If we get a report for the federal authorities in six months’ time from inspection and it’s a negative one, we’ve got 28 days to fix it,” he said. “There’s no mucking around. There’s no ‘I’ll think about it.’ We’d be sanctioned. We’d be out of business in six months.”

Graeme Prior is CEO of Hall & Prior Aged Care Group which operates 25 long-term care homes in Australia. From CBC

Twelve homes were shut down in Australia in 2018, according to figures from Australia’s public health department. Zero was shut down in Ontario that year.

“We don’t seem to possess the sort of teeth that they’ve given to their inspectors,” said senior care expert Tamara Daly of York University. “We don’t act as readily to shut a home down. They (Australia) remove accreditation really fast, and as a result of that, I believe that they’re convalescing compliance with their standards.”


Staffing levels

Staffing levels are key to consider senior care. In Canada, personal support workers may take care of as many as 36 patients, in line with Daly, who finds that unacceptable. “One PSW for 36 residents who themselves are incapable of visiting the bathroom on their own. If someone needs two people so as to maneuver them and that they want to urge out of bed, those two people must be available at the identical time. the amount of staffing is simply such a lot more limited.”


There is some question on whether the COVID-19 disaster in long-term care facilities will change that political calculation because the general public might demand change. Australia’s federal control and funding of senior care stand as an example.

Source: CBC News

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