COVID vaccination in WA: Aged care boss says jab not to blame for industry’s staffing woes

Breanna RedheadThe West Australian
SwanCare chief executive Graham Francis with resident Elizabeth Stevens.
Camera IconSwanCare chief executive Graham Francis with resident Elizabeth Stevens. Credit: Frances Andrijich

From midnight tonight, unvaccinated aged-care workers face the risk of losing their job, but the CEO of Perth’s largest single-site aged-care provider said the jab is not to blame for staffing problems he believes already existed.

While only 5.7 per cent of workers remain unvaccinated, SwanCare CEO Graham Francis said it won’t be the root cause of the industry’s staffing crisis.

“I don’t think there will be an immediate drop off of staff because of the vaccination,” Mr Francis said.

“Acquiring and recruiting staff in aged-care generally is a huge challenge for the sector.

“There is pressure on staffing anyway so a small drop off due to the requirement of being vaccinated will cause a problem, but the problem existed before this vaccination imposition was put on the industry.”

Swan Care Bentley currently holds a 98 per cent vaccination rate for staff, a figure Mr Francis said was achieved with little hesitation from staff.

“Our staff are very passionate, they know that getting vaccinated helps not only themselves but helps make a safe environment and protect the residents that they care for.”

He said getting vaccinated is “engrained” in aged-cared staff, with the flu-shot a requirement to work in the industry.

Working closely with the Health Department, the facility attained an on-site vaccination clinic that Mr Francis said ‘really lifted’ vaccination rates.

“We wouldn’t have got it done without the help of the Health Department and the on-site clinics,” he said.

“The increased availability of Pfizer also made a huge difference, there was some hesitation early for Astra Zeneca from some of our staff but when the Pfizer accessibility opened up that also increased the rate.”

He advised communication is key when dealing with any hesitation.

“Getting the vaccination is the best way for us to get an overall protection and I understand why people don’t want it but I can’t see the sense in not having it if it’s going to provide a safe environment,” he said.

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