Preparing for COVID-19 in the home care sector

A national webinar will discuss what coronavirus means for the home care sector.

Aged care minister Richard Colbeck and Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy will host a national webinar this Friday to discuss what coronavirus means for the home care sector.

The forum, understood to be open to invited providers and stakeholders only, will discuss COVID-19 preparedness and in-home care support including home care, CHSP and the assessment workforce for providers.

It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced a $2.4 billion coronavirus response package including a range of measures targeting aged care.

While the package didn’t specifically mention home care, the sector will share in the $100 million for additional workforce capacity and benefit from other measures including telehealth and home medicine services.

The workforce funding will educate and train aged care workers in infection control, and enable home care providers to hire extra care workers, the health department says.

“That’s to ensure (resources for providers)  if there are temporary shortages or additional costs over and above those which they would ordinarily have,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told journalists.

Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt, Brendan Murphy announce the coronavirus health package in Canberra on March 11, 2020.

The home medicines initiative means people over 70 will be able to order their Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions remotely and have medicines home delivered to reduce their potential exposure to the virus.

The measure comes alongside the addition of telehealth as a Medicare item, and moves by the government to work with pharmacies to roll out electronic prescribing.

People aged over 70 will be eligible for telehealth services if they are self-quarantined for COVID-19 and will also be able to see a health provider via telehealth for a non-COVID-19 matter if they have seen that provider face-to-face at least once in the previous 12 months.

Sector working with government

Peak aged care organisations say they are working to keep home care providers informed and to ensure the sector is recognised as a key part of the government response.

L to R: Sean Rooney and Patricia Sparrow

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney says because home care recipients are located within the community, protecting their health and the health of workers is of increased concern.

LASA’s advice is to minimise gatherings in community groups and increase hygeine, and for providers to constantly update staff on infection protocols as recommended by health authorities. It has also established a hotline and web portal with advice and guidance about COVID-19.

“The Government’s announcement of in-home telehealth and pathology services is welcome as a way of minimising the spread of COVID-19 among older Australians,” Mr Rooney told Community Care Review.

Aged and Community Services Australia Australia (ACSA)  expressed concern that there has not been sufficient specific focus on home care.

CEO Patricia Sparrow described the home care sector as “a more challenging and difficult environment for handling disease control” than residential.

“Home care is inherently less controlled than residential because it is a changing and external environment, but we do have similar procedures, training and safeguards,” she told Community Care Review.

“Consumer expectations are also a big factor. For example, some people may expect workers to wear a mask regardless of whether this is recommended in the situation. We need to be sensitive and do what we can to communicate clearly about requirements and also put people’s minds at ease.”

She said ACSA would continue to facilitate the latest information and advice from authorities to members.

A new educational resource is also available to help aged care providers and staff understand and respond to the pandemic.

Read about providers’ legal obligations here.

*The webinar is available to invited providers and stakeholders only.

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Tags: coronavirus, COVID19, greg hunt, home-medicines-service, lasa, news-ccr-1, scott-morrison, Sean Rooney, telehealth,

10 thoughts on “Preparing for COVID-19 in the home care sector

  1. I cannot find anything about this national webinar. Why isn’t there a link in the article

  2. I have contacted my funding arrangement manager for CHSP and she knows nothing about this webinar. Surely it could be made clearer as to how we get access to this webinar.

  3. I am a provider and have had no notification of this webinar. Can you advise me who to contact please?

  4. In response to your many enquiries the webinar is currently open to invited providers and stakeholders only.

  5. Poor organisation of this government to deal with this disaster . They have been sitting on their hands for 2 months. All infected persons have been travellers. We are doing worse than HK and they are next door to China. Even China is doing better than most parts of the world. What is this saying about the response from the world. Its too late once its rampant in the community. Brendan Murphy is out of touch and our government is standing behind him on this matter nowhere to be seen. Maybe Brenden has it wrong just like he got travellers from ITALY very wrong

  6. Age care carers are all ready on line with infection control We do it daily Flu Gastro C Diff MRSA Shingles Scabies and it goes on….. We as age carers are well educated and are in control of infectious situations……We all have certificates and life expeiences…..No wonder you cannot get aged care workers when u reat us like fools and give us such low pay Respect……staff ratios too little too late

  7. Invited providers and stakeholders. What about age care workers. THIS IS PANDEMIC PROPORTIONS, shame it is only for a select few and should be widely available to all who wish to view.

  8. Hi I,work for Intedrated living not he Newcastle area.
    As from today we have no masks gloves or handsanitzer available for our SWs.

    What Do we do when we need to protect our selves and our Clients

    Is this a across the board in other Health care businesses??
    What is the Government doing to help protect our medical system? Also who pays for the loss of wages we all are going to loose? .we could loose our houses, due to not being able to pay rent or mortgage.

    We need and want Answers

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