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Contingency measures to ensure continuity of aged care during COVID-19

A media release from Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck about emergency measures to ensure aged care recipients continue to get the care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck
Former Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services
Former Minister for Sport

Media event date:
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Media release
General public

Emergency contingency measures will ensure aged care recipients continue to get the care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Government today launches a joint strategy aimed at strengthening the workforce to ensure staffing gaps are filled.

The measures include:

  • New emergency response teams on standby if there’s a significant outbreak in a residential aged care facility;
  • Remote locums to support aged care providers in remote Australia if they are unable to source staff; and
  • Access to a surge workforce through the online platform Mable, to help providers if they’re unable to fill critical skills because of infection or staff have to self-isolate.

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said COVID-19 Age Care Support Program funding will also help approved aged care providers with the costs of hiring additional staff and covering workers who are required to self-isolate.

“We are ready to help the Aged Care sector as we navigate through this difficult time together,” Minister Colbeck said.

“It’s absolutely critical we continue to have a strong workforce so there are no gaps in care, particularly in regional and remote areas.

“As unlikely as it might be, we have plans in place for worst case scenarios where an outbreak in aged care facilities mean local staff are unable to continue to provide care due to an infection in the service.”

It will be funded via the $101.2 million available for Age Care measures – part of the Federal Government’s $2.4 billion support package announced on March 11.

Healthcare solutions provider Aspen Medical has been engaged to deploy the emergency response teams immediately to an aged care facility if a significant outbreak occurs.

“Nurse first responders are on standby in every state and territory in the event of an outbreak,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Additionally, while it’s unlikely, we need to ensure we’re planning for parts of the workforce being unable to work.

“In an emergency situation, where large parts of the workforce or specific skills can’t be sourced through existing channels, providers can access the Mable workforce platform to recruit workers in nursing, allied health, personal care, domestic assistance and social support service.

“I want to stress these are temporary contingency measures and providers must show they’ve exhausted usual recruitment channels.

“There’s every chance these extraordinary measures won’t be required in full - but it’s vital we are ready.”

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