Date published: 
7 April 2020
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s update includes information which further elaborates on the Government’s recent announcement of support measures to assist aged care providers as part of the response to COVID-19.

Thank you for your continued support to protect older Australians.

Further Support for Providers — Workplace Planning

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 outbreak.

For Workforce Planning

  • 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.

Inform us of a COVID-19 case

The Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are here to assist providers in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. It is critical that you urgently advise your primary 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.

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: 

  • 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 is available on GrantConnect.
  • 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 partnered with 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

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 if you need emergency support arrangements.

It is important to urgently advise your primary 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.

Resources

New Material from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

Posters have been developed to supplement the CDNA National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia. The CDNA guidelines include a flow chart for managing COVID-19 in residential facilities. The posters take this flow chart and presents it in a way that may be easier for facilities to see what they need to do for their particular circumstances.

Training modules

Five modules are available for completion as part of the Department of Health’s eLearning program for Aged Care workers. The training includes Personal Safety, Families and Visitors, Outbreak Management and PPE.

Coming Soon

  • Updated FAQs
  • Additional PPE resources for the aged care sector
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