The federal government has teamed with Australia’s largest online workforce platform to provide a temporary surge workforce for providers who lose staff as a result of COVID-19.

Mable was established in 2014 to connect care and support workers with people in the community and has previously linked older Australians and people with disability to support workers under consumer directed care.

It is now opening up its 8,000-strong online workforce to approved residential aged care providers to recruit workers in nursing, allied health and personal care.

Peter Scutt

Home and CHSP providers, and community services like Meals on Wheels, will also be able to use the platform for domestic help and social services.

CEO Peter Scutt said Mable anticipated expanding it’s community of workers as well as adding volunteers as a category for organisations who rely on unpaid work.

“It’s unclear how much we need to grow the workforce by, we’re going to see how demand transpires during this COVID period and we’ll also be looking at supply and demand as we go forward,” he told Community Care Review.

Mable will also provide online training through its training hub for people who may have been stood down or lost their jobs in other industries such as hospitality or aviation.

Aged care minister Richard Colbeck said the measure would help fill any gaps that may emerge due to illness, self-isolation or personal caring duties affecting staff.

He stressed Mable will only provide a temporary workforce and providers will have to show they’ve exhausted all other recruitment options.

Richard Colbeck

 “If a home care package provider urgently needs a personal care worker to deliver home care services or a residential provider requires a registered nurse and they have been unable to find a resource using their existing channels, they can use this service to get an appropriately skilled person to deliver the services they need for a short time,” Mr Colbeck said.

Mr Scutt said there was anecdotal evidence that some consumers have been cutting back on services or shifting the sort of support they are getting in response to the pandemic.

But there’s also been interest from providers.

 “Consumers are using Mable but this [arrangement] gives access to providers that may need access to that contingent workforce and we’re starting to see is those inquiries come through,” he said.

“There is an expectation we’ll see more of that inquiry going forward.”

Mr Scutt believes platforms like Mable have an important role to play as the aged care sector confronts the challenges of coronavirus.

“Now more than ever is a time for cooperation and collaboration and putting older Australians and their carers and the people that support them at the forefront,” he said.

“We are an organisation that wants to take a collaborative approach and work with government, providers, communities and families to see if we can reduce the impact of COVID-19 on older Australians.”

This article first appeared in Community Care Review

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