University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Supporting the Residential Aged Care Workforce for Covid-19 Recovery

The first Australian case of COVID-19 was confirmed in late January 2020 (Australian Government, Department of Health 2020c), with a national pandemic declared on 27 February 2020 (Australian Government, Department of Health 2020b). The first death from COVID-19 of a person living in an Australian residential aged care facility (RACF) occurred on 4 March 2020 (Han 2020). This RACF, Dorothy Henderson Lodge (New South Wales), subsequently became the first Australian COVID-19 cluster site. While federal and state/territory governments in Australia successfully implemented a range of strategies to reduce COVID-19 viral spread, Australia nonetheless had one of the highest total percentage rates of death from COVID-19 within RACFs during 2020 globally (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021b; Cousins 2020). The Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety determined that the Australian federal government's response in preparing the aged care sector for COVID-19 was "insufficient" (Cousins 2020: 1323). Within this climate, staff working in RACF continued to provide care and support to those living in residential aged care, and did so at their own risk and with significant under resourcing (financial, material, and human).

This project has examined the impact of COVID-19 on staff working in Tasmanian RACFs as told in their own words. This involved in-depth interviews with twenty Tasmanian RACF staff working across roles including cleaning, cooking, care work, allied health, laundry, pastoral support, leisure and lifestyle, medication support, nursing, maintenance, supervision, and management. At the time of the interviews, these participants were working across 21 different not-for-profit Tasmanian RACFs that ranged from very large to small facilities, and across nine different aged care providers. The interviews occurred prior to and following the opening of Tasmanian borders to interstate and international visitors (15 December 2021), and therefore the research was able to capture changing political and pandemic circumstances (for example, before and following the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in Tasmania) as it impacted the Tasmanian residential aged care sector.


Clarence City Council


Commissioning body

Clarence City Council, University of Tasmania




School of Social Sciences


Clarence City Council, University of Tasmania

Place of publication

Hobart, Tasmania

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Health protection and disaster response; Expanding knowledge in human society