This newsletter includes:
- information from the Department of Home Affairs measures to support the aged care sector workforce
- information on independent reviews into COVID-19 outbreaks at 2 residential care homes in Victoria.
We have included a collection of resources and advice for Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) providers, as well as information on the Government’s third Workforce Retention Bonus Payment.
From the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC), there is information supporting aged care staff returning to work safely, as well as details about VACRC’s new webinar series.
We thank you for your hard work to protect older Australians and encourage you to share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce.
Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.
Department of Home Affairs measures to support the Aged Care sector workforce
The Department of Home Affairs has advised that from today the following measures will take effect to support the aged care sector:
- Extending the relaxation of the 40-hour per fortnight work restriction for international student visa holders to all those working in aged care as at 8 September (via flexible application of policy). Please refer to the Home Affairs website for details
- Allowing temporary visa holders (for example, visitor visa holders) with relevant skills to apply for a COVID-19 pandemic event visa to allow work in the aged care sector if they have an offer of employment (via legislative instrument change to commence 8 September 2020). Please refer to the legislative instrument registered with the Federal Register of Legislation (F2020L01145) and the Home Affairs website, aged care, industry and employers section for details.
The measures were developed due to significant workforce pressures in the aged care sector.
Independent reviews into COVID-19 outbreaks at St Basil’s Home for the Aged and Heritage Care Epping Gardens have commenced
The Government is committed to learning from the experiences of COVID-19 outbreaks in residential aged care services.
Independent reviews into the COVID-19 outbreaks at St Basil’s Home for the Aged and Heritage Care Epping Gardens have now commenced. Both reviews will be conducted by Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly. The reviews will be carried out during September and October with the final reports due in mid-November 2020.
The reviews will examine the extent, impact, management and contributory causes of the COVID-19 outbreaks at these services. The purpose is to derive lessons learned from these outbreaks, in order to inform management of potential future outbreaks and to support Australia’s aged care sector to manage similar situations now and into the future.
As part of the reviews Professor Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Lilly will be speaking to a range of stakeholders, including residents and their representatives.
The reports will be published shortly after completion.
Professor Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Lilly collectively bring decades of experience in aged care, health administration, infectious diseases and infection prevention and control, and clinical care. They previously completed a review into the COVID-19 outbreak at Newmarch House in Sydney. Read their report.
Workforce Retention Bonus update
The Australian Government has announced it will provide an additional $563.3 million to further support the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19. This takes the Government’s support for senior Australians in aged care to over $1.5 billion since the pandemic began.
The package included an additional $154.5 million for a third Workforce Retention Payment based on eligible employment as at 30 November 2020. This payment will be made automatically in line with the September payment subject to variations.
September payment variations
The variation process for the second payment has now closed. Adjusted grant schedules will be issued in the last week in September with funds being paid to nominated bank accounts after 5 business days. For those providers who did not need to submit a variation, your payment will be automatic. If you believe you should have submitted a variation and did not by the due date, please email email@example.com. It is important to note that variations are only required if your payment amount would reduce by 10% or more or any increase in payment.
PricewaterhouseCoppers (PwC) has commenced their undertaking of the audit activity on behalf of the Department. The random, and targeted, audits for Payment #1 are now well underway, with providers being contacted by the Department initially, and then PwC, as they are selected. It is important if you are selected, that you provide the requested information to PwC in a timely manner. These audits will be conducted throughout the life on this program. If you are selected for audit but are currently directly affected by COVID please advise the Department or PwC immediately to defer your audit process.
A collection of resources for CHSP providers and the public
The Department of Health has published a collection of resources for the public and industry about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on its website.
There are a number of fact sheets targeted at providers funded to deliver services under the CHSP, with information on:
There is also a fact sheet for CHSP clients, their carers and families to explain how the changes to the program affect them.
CHSP service providers need to ensure they are complying with any guidelines, restrictions or advice provided by their state or territory government. For more information around your state/territory guidelines, please see the relevant government website:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia.
VACRC information supporting staff to return to work safely
Victoria’s aged care facilities and workforce is more important than ever. The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) has sent an email to residential aged care providers in Victoria with information to assist the aged care workforce to return to work in a safe way. Right now, the Australian and Victorian governments want to ensure healthy aged care staff can return to providing care and support for vulnerable older Victorians as soon as possible.
A fact sheet has been developed for aged care staff to:
- answer frequently asked questions
- provide information about quarantine and self-isolation requirements
- explain protection measures
- prepare staff for returning to work.
In addition, we wish to draw your attention to the communications guidelines for effective communications that the VACRC put together as a guide to assist you in your communications with residents, families and staff, prior to, during and following a COVID-19 outbreak.
Lunch and Learn, VACRC webinar series for residential aged care and COVID-19
To assist aged care providers to navigate these challenging times, the VACRC has launched a new 'lunch and learn' webinar series. The free, twice weekly, lunchtime webinar series will begin today from 1pm with focus on waste requirements, disposal and management.
Upcoming webinars will focus on coordination of COVID-19 prevention and preparation, including stress testing, and family engagement and communication. Read more information on when they are and what topics are coming up.
The sessions are designed to equip providers with vital information on new and emerging issues that need to be addressed in the pandemic period as well as provide a forum to address the questions arising now as we navigate the crisis.
Register for the series. Recordings will be made available to registrants after the session.