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Victoria’s ‘disposable people’: Aged care residents with COVID-19 turned away from hospital

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Elderly people in aged care facilities who are infected with COVID-19 are being refused hospital admission and are instead being sedated in nursing homes.

A letter provided to the families of residents at Glenlyn Aged Care in Glenroy reveals the Royal Melbourne Hospital turned away two patients with coronavirus who were wandering around the nursing home, increasing the risk of the virus spreading in the facility.

Dr Robert Hoffman, who visits eight nursing homes, including Glenlyn, says he has seen the “appalling” situation happen at two facilities, but he understands it is more widespread.

He told Neil Mitchell people with COVID-19 are less likely to survive coronavirus if they are forced to stay in aged care.

“The idea that we can sedate people and monitor them safely in nursing homes is wrong,” Dr Hoffman said.

“It’s unproved. You need equipment and you need staff.

“Care staff basically have six weeks training … They can’t monitor someones vital signs.”

Dr Hoffman says in situations where a person is highly likely to die from COVID-19 within a day or two, it’s appropriate for them to receive palliative care in nursing homes.

In all other situations, he says they should be hospitalised.

“If people are unwell, if they’re wandering, or if the nursing home is so devastated by staff being affected by COVID, they should also be moved to hospital even if they’re well,” he said.

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Neil Mitchell says he never thought he’d see a situation like this in Australia.

“It seems we now have disposable people,” the 3AW Mornings host said.

“Jenny Mikakos, the Health Minister, has got to answer to this.”