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.
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.”
More Information is available here:
- Health alerts on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the health and aged care sector
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for older Australians
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources