The Federal Opposition has added its voice to calls to extend the COVID-19 retention payment to all aged care facility staff in recognition for the work they are doing to keep residents safe.
However, the government is not considering expanding eligibility beyond care staff in recognition of “the particular role they play,” the aged care minister tells Australian Ageing Agenda.
The Federal Government announced a $235 million COVID-19 retention bonus on 20 March of $800 per quarter for two quarters “for direct care workers” in residential aged care, which is limited to nursing, personal care and allied health staff.
The $235 million scheme also provides two $600 retention bonus payments to home care package workers providing care, cleaning, home support activities and meal preparation as well as social support, shopping, transport, allied health and respite.
Since the announcement provider and union representatives and aged care workers have called on the government to extend the bonus scheme to other facility staff including those working in laundry, cleaning, catering, administrative, leisure and maintenance roles (read more here).
On Thursday, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors Julie Collins added her voice to those calling the scheme unfair.
She said Labor called on the Morrison Government to expand eligibility for its retention bonus payment to those residential aged care workers missing out, such as cleaning, laundry and catering staff.
“Labor supports the Government’s retention bonus and asked for it to do something to keep workers employed in the sector but no one working in aged care should miss out.
“This payment isn’t just about retention, it’s about recognition,” Ms Collins said.
Every facility worker is doing their bit to keep aged care residents safe from COVID-19, she said.
“It is simply not fair that some workers who are on the frontline of this fight are not receiving the retention bonus,” Ms Collins said.
All aged care workers should benefit from the retention payment for the work they do each and every day, she said.
AAA asked Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck on Thursday whether the Government would reconsider the eligibility criteria of the scheme and why it wouldn’t extend the retention bonus to all facility staff.
In his response, Mr Colbeck reiterated that eligible residential aged care workers only include registered nurses, enrolled nurses, personal care workers and allied health professionals.
“The focus of this measure is on the retention of direct care and personal support workers recognising the particular role they play in caring for individuals,” Mr Colbeck told AAA on Thursday evening.