In line with the Chief Medical Officer’s declaration on 14 August of all of NSW as a hotspot for the purposes of Commonwealth support, additional Australian Government support for aged care providers has also been triggered. In particular, workers at all residential aged care facilities in NSW are asked to limit their work to a single facility to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and protect workers and residents.
Providers in regional NSW should adjust their rosters as soon as practical and ensure staff are only working at one residential aged care facility for the next two weeks to 28 August. This date supersedes all previous announcements on single site arrangements.
Given the higher risk in Greater Sydney and Newcastle regions, these arrangements should continue until 11 September, as previously advised, in the following locations:
- Greater Sydney, including Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour; and
- The City of Cessnock, City of Lake Macquarie, Dungog Shire, Maitland, Muswellbrook Shire, Newcastle, Port Stephens Council and Singleton Council
Workers are encouraged to speak with their primary employer and look to work all shifts during this period with the residential aged care provider where they were working the most hours prior to the outbreak. To the greatest extent possible, the employer should seek to match any hours no longer being worked with a secondary employer to ensure the worker is not financially disadvantaged and receives the same average take home pay in their regular pay cycle. It is important workers also retain the security of any secondary employment.
The use of agency staff is permitted but should be limited, while still ensuring an adequate standard of care for residents. Where required, agency workers should be booked in shifts and extra precaution should be taken to ensure the risk of transmission is minimised. In all hotspot locations, facilities should take additional steps to minimise transmission risks where possible – screening, testing, PPE usage, and tracking staff movements.
Where these arrangements result in additional workforce expenses, providers are able to seek reimbursement from the Australian Government through the Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) Grant. The SACWIC grant opportunity remains open until 31 December 2021.
In addition to funding support, providers can also access guidance on practical implementation of single site arrangements, including employee relations expertise, through the Guiding Principles Support Hub website or hotline on 1800 491 793.
Residential aged care providers need to remain alert and prepared for a potential outbreak of COVID-19 at their facilities. The Department encourages you to be familiar with the measures you should have in place at all times to prevent and prepare for an outbreak and how to identify and manage an outbreak in residential aged care.
Please visit our website for information and resources to assist in preparing and managing a COVID-19 outbreak, including what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak in a residential aged care facility.