New measures for the Aged Care sector have been unveiled against COVID-19 including a $2345 million for a retention bonus staff in both residential and home care.

Making the announcement last Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said $92.2 million would be provided in additional support for home care providers and organisations which delivered the Commonwealth Home Support Program, including services such as Meals on Wheels.

The government will also provide and $12.3 million to support the My Aged Care Service to respond to the needs of older Australians.

“This additional funding is being focussed on those who are most vulnerable, to get them the additional support so they can get access to the essential things they need, particularly through things like Meals on Wheels and home care support and the other things older Australians will need going through this time,” the PM told a media conference.

The announcement followed a meeting of the national cabinet established to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

However there was no mention of the rapid response teams promised by Senator Colbeck at a webinar for home care stakeholders on March 16. https://www.australianageingagenda.com.au/2020/03/16/home-care-providers-to-get-covid-19-rapid-response-teams/

CCR understands a number of providers have reported not having enough PPE and attempts their attempts to access a rapid response team have been unsuccessful.

CCR sought further information from the government on when the teams would be available and how to access them but has not received a response.

In the meantime, the Department of Health has launched a new process for aged care providers to order personal protective supplies and a new learning module for aged care workers.

Read more here https://www.australianageingagenda.com.au/2020/03/25/new-ppe-request-process-online-learning/

Retaining staff

The $234.9 retention bonus is designed to create an incentive for workers to stay with their employers via significant tax-free bonuses

It will mean a payment of up to $800 after tax per quarter – paid for two quarters – for direct care workers and two payments of up to $600 after tax per quarter – for two quarters – for those who provide care in the home.

Payments will be delivered to providers to pay their workers,with part-time workers will be paid a pro-rata rate.

Home care providers and organisations that deliever CHSP, including services such as shopping and meal delivery for people in self-isolation, will get an additional $92.2 million to enable the delivery of additional in-home services.

Meanwhile there will be $12.3 million to boost the capacity of My Aged Care to meet the surge in aged care specific COVID-19 enquiries and pay for additional staff.

Protecting older Australians

Aged care minister Richard Colbeck says the measures are designed to protect older Australians and the sector as transmission of COVID-19 increased.

“Aged care is a critical sector that faces staffing challenges as existing staff are either subject to self-isolation requirements due to COVID-19 or are unable to attend work,” he said.

“We know we are asking a lot of this critical workforce as we face this unprecedented health emergency.”

Industry says measures welcome but more needed

Aged care industry bodies welcomed the additional support but said it still fell short of what will be required to maintain all of essential services needed during COVID-19.

“Our sector is at the frontline of a major public health crisis,” an alliance of providers  including ACSA, Aged Care Guild, LASA, Anglicare Australia and Baptist Care Australia said.

It said the sector would make a joint proposal to the government outlining the further measures to safequard older Australians through the pandemic

The pandemic would create more financial and operational pressures for already stretched providers, the statement said.

“These financial risks are as real as the challenges faced by airlines, tourism and hospitality,” it said.

The group said it also welcomed the Government’s recognition of aged care as an essential service,by giving our workers prioritised access to diagnostic testing if the need arises.

Providers of aged care services are focused on making sure that the older people in our care are well protected from the pandemic and are receiving the best quality of care.

COTA said the package provides much-needed support and very welcome support for home care services, which will be increasingly important if further social distancing and isolation measures are required.

The union representing aged care workers said the was belatedly recognised the importance of the overworked and understaffed aged care workforce.

But the UWS said the promised funds must not soaked up by the top layer or “go missing” in red tape.

“The challenge for the Federal Government is to make sure the workers who will be running aged care in this time of crisis get the money they have been promised,” Carolyn Smith, the National Aged Care Director of United Workers Union said.

“We need a fair, transparent and equitable system to deliver the funding as quickly as possible to aged carers – they need this to go straight into their pockets.

“Aged carers will be on the front line of this crisis, and they need all the support they can get.”

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12 Comments

  1. Who exactly counts as an aged care worker? For example, are nurses, laundry/services staff considered aged care workers or is it only for ECA’s/PCA’s?

  2. Do casual aged care employees miss out? I have been a casual aged care worker for 12 years.

  3. Everybody in working in aged care should be entitled to this money, as we are forced to work in a environment of large numbers of staff and not always able to keep the self Distancing rule, 2 x staff required to care for 1 resident or dementia care where wandering and touch are not controllable! Staff that go from one shift to another facility !! We are not protected which bring risk not only to ourselves but our families! Considering unemployment Benefits are paying more a fortnight than some of us part-time workers? Makes you wonder if it’s worth going to work? We should be getting hazard money!

  4. Can someone please confirm wether or not it is for all staff in a nursing home?

  5. As a casual DCW of 10 months it will be disappointing if we don’t receive any assistance. Most of the employees in the company I work for are part-time or casual when it comes to in home care. Plus a big a large number are 50+ and not willing to risk their own health right now. They’ve taken leave and what work load is left is taken on by the likes of my self (which is up and down with clients cancelling) with uncertainty of hours week by week. I fulling appreciate any full-time or part-time staff taken any hard earned leave entitlements at this crazy time. I do wonder though, will they still receive these payments if they choice to not be on the front lines? Casuals whether they have worked a few weeks or months deserve to be support too.

  6. Is this retention bonus only for aged care workers or are disability support workers also entitled to claim?

  7. Is only for residential care workers only
    That work through out this Pandemic
    What about hospital staff that take care of these aged patients who as a whole take care of them in Hospital settings

  8. I am 75 Years old female with chronic ongoing pain and illness, I am struggling with the increased cost of staying at.home . Is there any additional payment directly to assist me in maintaining a basic lifestyle. My sole income is aged pension?

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