Covid Outbreaks Aged Care Spreadsheet contains data obtained from the Department of Health’s Weekly COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian residential aged care facilities.
At a Senate inquiry hearing on August 4, 2020, Dr Brendan Murphy, secretary of the Department of Health, and Senator Richard Colbeck, the Minister for Aged Care, refused to name the aged care homes with outbreaks during Victoria’s second wave. They explained that providers didn’t want to be publicly named because they were worried about “reputational damage”.
It is not the role of the Department of Health or the government to protect aged care homes from reputational damage. So I began preparing a weekly list of the outbreaks in Victorian aged care homes in 2020.
After a month or so weeks of updating my list (mostly from intel from members of my Aged Care Matters Facebook Group), the Department of Health released its first Weekly report on 11 September 2020. At that time, an outbreak was defined as one resident or staff testing positive for Covid.
More recently the Department has listed only the names of aged care homes with two or more Covid cases.
This data has been produced every week, until 31 December 2022 – when no report was published and no explanation given.
The weekly report recommenced on 7 January 2022.
The entries marked with yellow highlight on Jan 7 data indicate homes that have gone into lockdown because a staff member has tested positive (i.e. no residents have tested positive). In NSW, for example, about 15 per cent of aged care homes are in lockdown because a staff member tested positive (i.e. not a resident).
These outbreaks marked yellow were preventable. They could have been avoided with all staff having a rapid antigen testing before their shift. While taking a test may be inconvenient and time-consuming, it is infinitely preferable to putting residents and families through the trauma of a lockdown.
I have also put notes in the Jan 7 spreadsheet to indicate the aged care homes that have had a surge in cases, and those aged care homes that we need to watch (hoping they don’t have a surge in cases).
On Jan 14, the Department indicated there were “technical issues”. Rather than delay the release of the report until these “technical issues” were resolved, someone in the Department decided to cut and paste the Appendix from the previous report!
No data is better than misleading data.
The decision to cut and paste the Appendix in 14 Jan’s report highlighted the Department of Health’s lack of transparency and accountability. (i.e. it’s not just the government who lack transparency, it’s also the public service).
In 7 January spreadsheet, numerous aged care homes had a surge in cases. Knowing what happened during the forthcoming week was so important – did the aged care home get the outbreak under control or not?
With poor communication in many aged care homes, families rely on the weekly report (and my spreadsheet) for accurate information.
In my 6 years of advocacy, this was the nadir. It has made me despair. If we can’t trust the Department to release accurate information, who can we trust?
Each week I have emailed a list of mistakes in the weekly report. On 9 January, I emailed:
Thanks for releasing the data – I am sure it has been a busy time with so many aged care homes with outbreaks.
I note with confusion that you are now naming some home care providers in your list of aged care homes with outbreaks. Are you able to tell me why?
On 24 Dec, you listed the following home care providers as active outbreaks:
Integratedliving Home Care Packages
St Basil’s In Home Care
On 7 Jan, you listed
Calvary Community Care
Five good friends
Anglicare SQ South Coast Region Home Care
Integrated Living Australia
Multicultural Aged Care Services Geelong Inc
Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association
Banyule City Council
Hume City Council
Northern Health Home Care Packages – Level 4
Wintringham Home Care
The Australian Asian Association of WA Triple A Care
You may also be interested in correcting the entry numbers 115 and 237 in the Appendix.
Also – Bupa Clemton Park is in NSW, not Victoria. Also you may want to correct the spelling.
Also, curious that Wesley House (SA) had 1 resident with an active case on 24th Dec. Yet on 7 Jan, had zero (with zero resolved).
I received no reply.
I no longer trust the data from the Department of Health. So I will not continue to update these spreadsheets.