Kris Healy has more than two decades of experience in the aged care sector and has made an extensive impact on both the companies she has worked for and the people within the industry during this time. Kris has held many roles in this sector from directly providing care to consumers, to managing large scale projects aimed at improving the care and service delivery of Hall & Prior. One such example of the projects Kris has managed and seen to completion is the transition of the Danks Group to Hall & Prior (2007-2010). During this transition, Kris was responsible for staff development, education and support, which lead to her being appointed the Director of Care Services for Hall & Prior’s New South Wales operations in 2010. Since then Kris has continued to make positive change within Hall & Prior and has been instrumental in the high quality of care and service delivered by the company. Kris now holds the role of General Manager for Hall & Prior’s New South Wales operations which include thirteen aged care homes. She has navigated her services through the pandemic with the same high level of care and service expected of Hall & Prior.
Managing workforce, resident and family fatigue – The impact of rolling lockdowns on residential aged care facilities in Australia
Kris Healy, Hall & Prior Health and Aged Care Organisation, Australia
In Australia, the eastern states of Victoria and New South Wales have experienced the greatest impact from COVID-19. While some parts of the country have remained relatively free from COVID-19, residential aged care facilities in NSW have been subject to rolling lockdowns for more than 15 months.
The Australian Federal Government and State/Territory Governments have all implemented various workforce strategies and public health directions to residential aged care facilities throughout the course of the pandemic. Aged care in Australia is governed and funded at the Federal level, but providers and facilities are also subject to regulations in the State or Territory in which they operate.
In New South Wales, the State Government has repeatedly mandated restrictions on visitor access to residential aged care facilities, most notably for more than three months from June 2021. Under State Government directives, for specified periods during the pandemic, visitors have only been permitted to enter residential aged care facilities in limited circumstances, primarily for compassionate reasons at the end of life.
Furthermore, Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout has been slower than in many other developed nations, leaving workers and residents exposed to the risk of infection. Residents of aged care facilities were among the first Australians eligible to receive a vaccine, several months ahead of staff and the majority of the Australian population. Concerns about risks associated with vaccination prevailed early on in the rollout, when the COVID-19 infection rate across Australia was low.
The combined result of rolling lockdowns and a slower-than-ideal vaccination rollout has been an overwhelming fatigue, for staff, for residents and for their families.
In this session, leaders from leading aged care provider Hall & Prior will share experiences and lessons learned in relation to:
- Managing workforce fatigue, particularly in the context of staffing shortages across the country;
- Maintaining resident health and wellbeing in the absence of face-to-face visits from family and friends;
- Maintaining and enhancing engagement with residents’ families and loved ones to provide reassurance and support during extended periods of lockdown;
- Implementing separate vaccination programs for residents and staff.