Aged care nurses and carers forced to pay for RATs

Tuesday 1st February, 2022

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is extremely concerned that many nurses and carers are still being forced to pay for their own rapid antigen tests (RATs) to go to work during the COVID-19 pandemic devastating Australia’s nursing homes.

According to the preliminary findings of a new national survey being conducted by the ANMF, almost one in five aged care nurses and carers paid for their own RATs, despite the Morrison Government promising back in August 2021, to commence rolling-out RATs to residential aged care facilities to protect workers, residents and their families.

Over 770 health and aged care workers have so far participated in the survey, with preliminary findings showing:

  • 1 in 5 participants report needing to buy their own RATs;
  • 27% report ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ testing experience.

ANMF Federal Assistant Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp said: “Aged care is in crisis. Chronic understaffing across the system has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with care staff unable to provide elderly residents with the quality care they need.

“Many of our nurses and carers are telling us that they’re still being forced to source and pay for their own RATs due to ongoing supply issues. This is putting further emotional and financial strain on the aged care workers who are already exhausted and burnt out.

“Sadly, it’s another example of the Morrison Government’s failure to plan and respond to a foreseeable crisis in aged care.”

Survey comments from aged care staff:

“My workplace had been an exposure site and then an outbreak site. The Government has been slow in distributing rapid antigen testing from the stockpile. Within our community it is difficult to obtain rapid antigen testing.”

“I worked directly caring for COVID-19 positive residents (6 positive of 15 residents on my floor) and was not tested over 5 shifts as my employer had run out of RATs as they were waiting for a supply from the Commonwealth Government.”

ANMF media release authorised by Lori-Anne Sharp, ANMF Federal Assistant Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne. 

The ANMF, with over 310,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.