South-west Victorian aged care workers quit over vaccine mandate amid critical staffing shortages

Six staff at Corangamarah Aged Care resigned over the vaccine mandate. The service said it impacts services and staff given the regional skills shortage.
Six staff at Corangamarah Aged Care resigned over the vaccine mandate. The service said it impacts services and staff given the regional skills shortage.

The deadline for Victorian aged care workers to be double-vaccinated passed this week, seeing a number of staff leaving an industry already critically impacted by shortages.

At Colac's Corangamarah Aged Care centre in western Victoria, six workers resigned over the vaccine mandate.

A further five healthcare staff also haven't been vaccinated and are working with Colac Area Health ahead of the December deadline for mandatory directions.

The losses are a blow in the face of a critical regional skills shortage.

"Yes, of course it impacts our services and staff but we are working closely with our workforce given the regional skills shortage," a CAH spokeswoman said.

"COVID has impacted the health sector and been further impacted by a skills shortage within the health industry. This is an ongoing concern for all health services.

"Staff are aware of pressures due to pandemic and industry skill shortages and CAH is working closely with all staff to support them."

Across Colac Area Health's 559 staff, 87 per cent of the workforce is fully vaccinated and no-one is working who is not fully vaccinated, the spokeswoman said.

Of the 245 staff working in aged care at Western District Health Services' facilities in Camperdown, Coleraine and Penshurst, only one has declined to be vaccinated.

The staff member has been stood down.

At South West Healthcare all 60 aged care staff have received both doses and many have also received their third dose, a spokesman said.

All aged care staff are also fully vaccinated at Portland District Health.

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Moyne Health chief executive Jackie Kelly said she was proud that all 220 staff were double dosed.

"We've had absolutely no problem at all with the mandate," she said.

"We've got more visitors into aged care again which is fantastic for families to be able to visit and get back to normal in that way.

"I'd like to thank all the staff who have done a wonderful job the last 18 months. I'm in awe of how well everyone has done under difficult circumstances.

A Lyndoch Living spokeswoman would not confirm whether any staff were stood down, but said all staff had been compliant with the aged care vaccine mandate.

Federal data shows Lyndoch has reported staff with an exemption to a COVID-19 vaccine.

"We wish to thank all team members who have followed the government's directives to help protect the health of others within our community by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine," a Lyndoch spokeswoman said.

Cobden Residential Aged Care's clinical care manager Anna Molan said only two of 120 staff hadn't received a second dose, and were off work until their second jab.

"It's brilliant," she said. "It's amazing to see compared to other places that are struggling with some staff.

"There are a lot more smiles on the residents' faces now that they can see their family.

"That was definitely by far the toughest thing, not having visitors, especially the ones with dementia who hadn't seen their family in up to three months.

"Residents are now allowed five visitors a day for no longer than two hours and we're allowed to have our weekly bus trips down to Port Campbell."

All 56 staff at Opal Healthcare's Warrnambool Place are fully vaccinated.

"All of our team were happy to have vaccination as they recognise how important it is in keeping those we care for, and one another, safe," a spokeswoman said.

"Our team take the health and safety of themselves as well as our residents, family members and the wider community seriously. For this reason, we have worked together to ensure they are protected against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

"Further to the COVID vaccinations, our team members have also received the flu vaccination."

Mercy Place Warrnambool has 90 to 100 per cent of staff vaccinated, according to this federal data map.

This story Aged care workers quit over vaccine mandate amid critical staffing shortages first appeared on The Standard.