Protecting older Australians: COVID-19 update 28 April 2020
What’s new: Recap on workforce support measures and assistance, Jobs Hub, personal monitoring technology for Senior Australians, Older person’s COVID-19 support line.
Today’s newsletter recaps all of the workforce support measures and financial assistance available to you if your service is affected by COVID-19
Minister Colbeck has released information about work the Government is doing to assist Senior Australians to access personal monitoring technology during self-isolation.
There is more information about the new Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line and we encourage you to promote this service through your networks.
As always, many thanks to you and your teams for your continued support to protect older Australians.
Recap on Workforce Support Measures and Assistance
The Government has announced a range of support measures to assist aged care providers as part of the response to COVID-19. These measures have been designed to recognise additional costs and to ensure continuity of care for older Australians in the event of a COVID-19 case or outbreak.
- All residential care providers will receive funding to help with the costs associated with hiring additional staff and covering workers if they are asked to self-isolate at home. This will be through an uplift to subsidies paid through the Aged Care Funding Instrument with effect from 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020. Funding will start to flow to providers from April 2020.
- Temporary subsidy increases for Home Care Packages to support providers’ additional costs and workforce supply pressures resulting from COVID-19 with effect from 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020.
- Support for Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) providers to expand high demand services, implement innovative service delivery models and retain paid and volunteer staff during this period. This will be in the form of a grant. An application form can be requested from Funding Arrangement Managers or by email from CHSPprogram [at] health.gov.au.
- Paying a ‘retention bonus’ to ensure the continuity of the workforce for aged care workers in both residential and home care.
For Temporary Surge Workforce Support
If your organisation is affected by COVID-19 (care recipient/staff infected or need to isolate because of exposure to COVID-19) you should take the following steps:
Step 1 — Attempt to fill vacancies through your usual channels such as looking at rostering arrangements; working with other providers to identify available staff; going to organisations to get agency staff
- Residential aged care providers may be eligible for reimbursement for direct costs associated with managing COVID-19 workforce impacts. You can only submit a grant application once your facility has resolved all COVID-19 cases. Details of eligibility and how to apply are available on GrantConnect.
Step 2 — After you have tried everything and you are still not be able to fill vacant positions, you may be eligible to source workforce through Mable online platform.
- The Department has engaged Mable to help Residential Aged Care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program and Home Care Package providers to replace a critical skill shortage — for example, if a registered nurse is urgently needed and cannot be sourced by the provider.
- This is designed to fill an immediate gap while the provider finds a longer-term solution. Staff provided through Mable will be available to the provider for up to four weeks and payable by the Department.
- To access this service, you will need to call the My Aged Care Provider and Assessor Helpline on 1800 836 799. You will then be asked a series of screening and eligibility questions make sure that this is the most appropriate support for your situation.
You can also use the Mable platform to find staff at any time as it is a workforce source that can be used to fill vacancies even if a provider is not affected by COVID-19. This can occur without coming through My Aged Care, however, you will be responsible for the cost of these staff.
For Emergency/Critical Workforce Support
It is important to urgently advise your public health unit and us on agedcareCOVIDcases [at] health.gov.au if you have any confirmed COVID-19 cases of either residents/care recipients or workers in your facility, service or program.
If a significant outbreak occurs in a residential aged care service and you find you can no longer continue to deliver your operations safely or support care recipients, the Department will contact you to assist with emergency support arrangements including through:
- Emergency response teams (through Aspen Medical) on standby if there’s a significant outbreak in a residential aged care facility
- Remote locums (through Aspen Medical) to support aged care providers in remote Australia if they are unable to source staff.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has developed a Jobs Hub to link businesses that have vacancies they need to fill, with Australians looking to work.
If your aged care organisation is looking to fill vacancies then you can email workforce [at] dese.gov.au and provide the following information:
- details of the roles you are looking to fill
- a link to your advertised vacancies
This information will then be available on the Jobs Hub for job seekers to search and apply for.
This is a free service that can be used by all aged care providers.
If your organisation is directly impacted by COVID-19, then you may still be eligible to apply for the aged care workforce measures listed above.
Minister — Personal Monitoring Technology for Senior Australians
The Federal Government is helping more Senior Australians access personal monitoring technology during self-isolation. At the push of a button or via automated technology, the monitoring systems send an alert to a staffed centre or family.
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said Commonwealth Home Support Programme service providers are being given additional flexibility to fund monitoring services.
This will include monitoring subscriptions for one year. Older Australians in receipt of home care packages will also be able to access the technology.
“These personal monitoring systems allow a person to seek help even when they can’t use a phone,” Minister Colbeck said.
“They can provide peace of mind and a sense of security to vulnerable senior people and their families and carers during self-isolation.
“Even though the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Australia has dropped to lower levels, this pandemic is far from over.
“Ensuring vulnerable people can get help when they need it, is a top priority during this difficult time.
Service providers will be able to choose from a range of monitoring and alert services available on the market, many of which have indicated an ability to expand their operations during the COVID-19 crisis.
Older Person's COVID-19 Support Line
A new Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line has been set up to provide information, support and check on older Australians during the period of social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COTA Australia, National Seniors, Dementia Australia and the Older Person’s Advocacy Network have banded together to deliver this service with support from the Australian Government.
Senior Australians, their families and carers can freecall 1800 171 866 if they:
- would like to talk with someone about what COVID-19 means for them or a loved ones
- are feeling lonely or distressed
- are caring for a someone and need some information or a listening ear about what COVID-19 means for your circumstances
- are worried about COVID-19 means for their usual aged care service
- are worried about a friend or family member living with dementia.
- are unable to access information on the internet and would like up-to-date advice
Home care services providers can also use the number and dial option 1 to refer home care clients who would like a call from an independent organisation to check on their wellbeing.
The service will include outbound and inbound calls to provide contact, reassurance and practical advice on connecting to services to maximise social engagement and wellbeing whilst at home.
- COVID-19 Training
- PPE flowchart — to assist when and how to use PPE
- Information for in-home care clients — “its ok to have home care” — is designed so workers can print off and distribute before entering their clients home to reassure them that it is ok to continue to receive care
- Advice for isolating workers who work at multiple aged care facilities
- Webinar on learnings from COVID-19 outbreaks (date TBC)