This Independent Review was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) to inquire into and learn from the two COVID-19 outbreaks at St Basil’s Home for the Aged (St Basil’s) and Heritage Care Epping Gardens (Epping Gardens) in Victoria (the facilities).
What occurred in Victoria, in July and August 2020, had not been witnessed before in Australia - a second wave of COVID-19 infections which directly affected more than 2,000 residents and more than 2,200 staff of residential aged care facilities (RACFs), across more than 200 outbreaks. The outbreaks at St Basil’s and Epping Gardens took hold in the early stages of the second wave and were amongst the largest recorded. In commissioning the review, the Department of Health sought to understand not only what had occurred but more importantly, what could be learned, so that the aged care sector could respond and be better prepared in the event of future outbreaks.
The review was undertaken by Professor Lyn Gilbert AO and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly, both of whom have prior experience in undertaking similar reviews. The reviewers consulted widely with multiple stakeholders throughout the course of the review and importantly, also met with families and residents. Whilst there were some legal impediments in executing the task, the reviewers gathered as much information as possible from many sources, including interviews, statements and documentation, in order to glean insights and formulate this report.