The Federal Government has announced further funding to aged care.  A $563.3m boost to aged care sector’s response to COVID-19. The management of the sector that cares for Australia’s most vulnerable received ongoing criticism.

Government Response

A lot of criticism has been directed towards Senator Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care, and the rest of Government.  This is over how they have supported and funded the response in the aged care sector.

This new funding boost takes the Government spend on aged care for senior Australians to over $1.5billion since the beginning of the pandemic.

Joint Statement

The joint statement from Greg Hunt (Minister of Health) and Senator Colbeck stated funding will further secure the industry during the crisis.

“We are committed to supporting senior Australians in aged care, workers and providers in Victoria to respond to the ongoing crisis.  And are putting in place critical actions to ensure we remain prepared across the country,” says their statement.

“Building on the $205 million COVID-19 Support Payment provided to all residential Aged Care providers in June 2020, the Australian Government will extend this payment to provide a further $245 million injection into all facilities”.

“This funding will be required to be used by providers to fund and support enhanced infection control capability, including through on-site clinical lead”.

“Funding may be used to address other COVID-19 related costs such as increased staffing, communications with families and managing visitation arrangements.”

All providers will need to report how these funds were used for COVID-19 related costs.  This will be a requirement for the providers during their end of financial year returns.

Providers will receive an expected amount of $975 per resident in metropolitan areas; and $1,435 per resident in other areas. This payment will be accessible through Services Australia in early October.

The Australian Government will extend the 30% increase for viability supplement and residential care homeless supplement for a period of 6months.

Funding for the Supporting Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Grant will be extended for a further 8-12 weeks with $92.4m available. The aim of the grant was to cover costs of implementing single site workforces in hotspot areas.  These include Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. If there are any new hotspots, further funding will be activated in such areas.

Additionally, a third Workforce Retention Payment has been implemented based on employment on 30 November 2020, which will cost $154.5 million.

“Aged care workers are continuing to provide invaluable care for our senior Australians,” the statement said.

“This will provide a financial incentive for workers to continue to provide the frontline care that is needed in facilities across the country.

“This third payment will have the same eligibility criteria as the first two rounds (the first paid in July, the second scheduled for September) of the workforce retention bonus.”

Government supports further funding

There are Government supports for older people who wish to move out of their residential aged care facility into the community.  This allows them to be with their family if they have concerns around COVID-19.

There will be an additional $71.4m for the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) to assist.

Peak body for aged care, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), acknowledged further support being provided to aged care services and workers.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LASA, Sean Rooney, said that most of the COVID-19 supports for aged care was due to expire at end of August.  New measures announced by the Government will assist providers in fighting COVID-19 over the coming months.

“For the most part, the announcement represents an extension of existing measures, which enables residential care services to maintain current levels of protection,” says Mr Rooney.

“We look to work with the Government on further supports based on the lessons learned in our fight against COVID-19. This includes expanding the retention bonus and paid pandemic leave programs, further supporting in-home care services, and providing clarity on single site working arrangements”.

“LASA last week made its pre-Budget submission to Government outlining a number of immediate and ongoing measures that are needed as soon as possible to keep older Australians safe. LASA will continue to work with Governments and the recently announced Aged Care Advisory Group to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect older Australians receiving care and support in Australia’s aged care system from the coronavirus.”

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the Aged Care Guide COVID-19 update page.

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