Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith. Picture by Luke Marsden.
Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith. Picture by Luke Marsden.

MP calls for ‘concierges’ at aged care facilities

BALLINA MP Tamara Smith today called on the NSW Government to urgently provide Visitor Concierge services at aged care centres.

Ms Smith said the state government should not be allowing aged care providers to unilaterally declare 'voluntary lockdowns'.

"People are getting cut off from their loved ones due to aged care providers closing their doors," the MP said.

"Families are often best-placed to keep an eye on quality and we need that extra oversight.

"I am calling on the government to provide funding for specialist Visitor Concierge services to be introduced in aged care facilities.

"A registered nurse should be testing staff and visitors to ensure they don't pose a health and safety risk to residents.

"I am also calling for mental health workers and official community visitors to be employed to help older people combat loneliness and provide crucial oversight of the industry."

Ms Smith has written to the Acting Minister for Seniors, Geoff Lee MP, calling for these additional services to be funded as a matter of urgency.

"I appreciate the Acting Minister has a difficult job of managing the risk that visitors pose to older, more vulnerable people and balancing this with the crucial need for social connection and connection with family and loved ones, but locking people away from their families for the next 12-18 months is simply unacceptable."

The funding is required, Ms Smith said, to safeguard the welfare of older people in New South Wales throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

"The recent Interim Report by the Royal Commission into Aged Care and Quality found that the system is severely lacking and neglects older people," she explained.

"During this very challenging time, we must find innovative ways we can do better and ensure older people get the help they need and stay connected with loved ones," she said.