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Queensland aged care homes drowning in PPE rubbish amid COVID-19


Aged care homes around Queensland are struggling to keep up with a growing mountain of COVID-19 related waste material, as removal workers battle to meet increased demand and staff shortages.

A build-up of PPE gear, face masks and other clinical waste have placed increasing pressure on aged care staff, and contractors unable to keep up with the rubbish.

Clinical waste has been piled into garages and shipping containers due to excess demand for waste removal services. (Nine)

At Wesley Mission’s Sinnamon Village Aged Care facility in Brisbane, staff have reverted to storing waste in several garages and shipping containers, and there are fears the rubbish is impacting both workers and residents.

Mark Tucker-Evans from the Council of the Ageing said the waste issue facing many residential homes is an unforeseen side effect of the pandemic.

With bags of waste lying in the sun, concerns have been raised regarding the impact of the rubbish, and the effects of the smell on elderly residents living above. (Nine)

“Really the industry that disposes of this material wasn’t expecting a pandemic so they are like everyone else struggling,” Mr Tucker-Evans said.

“I think it is a concern for the residents and the workers and the families visiting.”

With bags of waste lying in the sun, concerns have been raised regarding the impact of the rubbish, and the effects of the smell on elderly residents living above.

Not-for-profit Wesley Mission said in a statement that waste contractors to the Sinnamon Village facility were doing the best they could amid COVID-19 related staff shortages.

The pile-up is owing to reduced staff numbers, with many waste removalists isolating with COVID-19. (Nine)

“Our regular clinical waste disposal contractors are experiencing staff shortages due to COVID-19 and difficulties keeping up with demand for clinical waste removal,” the statement read.

“Wesley Mission Queensland continues to follow Queensland Government guidelines and protocols relating to storage of clinical waste.”

Aged care homes across the state have faced similar problems amid mass worker shortages, leading to the Australian Defence Force stepping in.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the announcement army personnel would be assisting the aged care sector.

“When you have instances where staff are testing positive for COVID, where residents are testing positive, you need to make sure people are getting that care — so I do welcome that decision today,” she said.

But Mr Tucker-Evans said the concern was bigger than meeting the aged care sector’s immediate needs, calling for the government to address worker shortages for the long-term.

“I think there is an immediate concern about how do we fix this, but there is also a longer-term concern: how do we work across industries and government to fix this before the next pandemic?” he said.



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