Government support for providers and workers

We provide support to Australian Government-funded aged care services (residential and in-home care) during COVID-19 outbreaks. This includes additional personal protective equipment, workforce support and cost reimbursements.

Support a during COVID-19 outbreak

Australian Government-funded aged care services (residential and in-home care) experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak can access support.

The Government has extended the closing date for applications under the COVID 19 Aged Care Support Program grant, to continue support to aged care providers with eligible costs they have incurred due to COVID-19 outbreaks that occur until 31 December 2022. The grant remains open for applications until 31 March 2023. Late applications will not be accepted.

When the extension to the closing date for applications is published, the GrantConnect website, including the Grant Opportunity Guidelines and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, will be updated. If you are registered with GrantConnect you will be notified of this update.

Reporting COVID-19 cases

Residential aged care providers are required to report ALL COVID-19 Cases for residents, staff and visitors immediately to both:

Personal protective equipment

The Commonwealth can support aged care services in the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need.

The National Medical Stockpile is not a general supply line for PPE. It is for emergency purposes. Aged care providers should use their own supply of PPE first and only request extra supply when needed.

We will assess requests for PPE on a case-by-case basis and prioritise residential aged care homes that are experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.  

If you are a residential aged care service with a current outbreak or exposure and are unable to source PPE, please visit the My Aged Care Portal. To request emergency PPE, you must provide evidence of your attempts to source PPE from commercial and retail suppliers.

Rapid Antigen Tests kits – continuing supply for residential aged care homes

We are continuing to supply weekly Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits to residential aged care homes through the National Medical Stockpile.

Each week, we deliver RAT kits to every residential aged care home in Australia.   This quantity is determined by the number of staff, residents and visitors expected at the aged care home. This regular weekly deployment should form part of your surveillance screening of at least 2 times per week and not more than 72 hours apart for staff, or on entry for each visitor.

It is inappropriate for facilities to charge residents, workers, or visitors for the use of these RATs.

All residential aged care homes will receive these RAT kits by default. To opt out of these weekly deliveries, providers can request to be removed from the dispatch list. To request removal from the dispatch list, please email AgedCareCOVIDEnquiries@health.gov.au.

Visitors can also use their own RAT kits prior to their visit and may be asked to provide evidence of their test result.

Residential aged care homes that have purchased RAT kits at their own expense to perform RAT screening of visitors and staff during an outbreak up to 31 December 2022 may apply for reimbursement through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863).

COVID-19 pathology in-reach testing in residential aged care

Residential aged care homes must have preparedness plans in place to ensure a prompt response to an outbreak of COVID-19 or other acute respiratory infection. These plans should include established formalised arrangements for accessing necessary pathology testing, including PCR tests, through general practitioners (GPs) and nurse practitioners and usual pathology providers

If PCR testing is required, requests must be from a GP or nurse practitioner, who has determined the testing is necessary to inform the clinical management of a patient, or where a public health unit (or public health authority) determines it is necessary to support COVID-19 outbreak management activities and the clinical care needs of residents.

Where clinical pathways cannot be accessed, we will provide access to COVID-19 pathology in-reach testing through Sonic Healthcare (Sonic), where COVID-19 has been detected:

Sonic does priority sample collection and testing for suspected cases of COVID-19 in residential aged care homes and is available for both residents and staff.

If COVID-19 pathology in-reach testing is necessary, the Department of Health and Aged Care, in consultation with your relevant local Public Health Unit (PHU) will make arrangements for Sonic to attend to perform COVID-19 PCR testing.

Requests for COVID-19 pathology in-reach testing through Sonic must be requested through the Department or local state health (South Australia and Western Australia only for local state health).

The service is operating nationally until 30 April 2023.

Surge Workforce

We provide surge workforce and supplementation measures to support approved aged care providers who are impacted by COVID-19. The surge workforce provides temporary support to providers who are impacted by staff isolation or infection.

The supports available include:

  • access to a temporary surge workforce to help providers when existing staff are infected or isolating
  • emergency response teams, who are on standby if there is a significant outbreak in a residential aged care facility.

If you wish to access COVID-19 aged care surge workforce support that is funded by the Commonwealth, you must exhaust all your existing partnerships and recruitment channels.

The surge workforce is not a long-term arrangement.

We consider surge workforce requests on a case-by-case basis, and the availability of surge workforce support is dependent on the availability of staffing resources.

Once an outbreak of COVID-19 is declared and we have been notified, the Department of Health and Aged Care will contact you to discuss your workforce strategies and the need for surge workforce support.

Where you manage the staffing impacts independently of the Department, or where the Department helps facilitate access to agency staff, eligible expenses up to 31 December 2022 can be reimbursed through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant - GO 4863.

All eligible costs, such as surge workforce invoices, must have been paid in full in order to be eligible for reimbursement. The grant does not provide up front reimbursement of unpaid invoices to facilitate a payment by the impacted service.

For further information, see Coronavirus (COVID-19) aged care workforce measures frequently asked questions.

Support for managing COVID-19 related costs

COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension

The COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program (GO4863) reimburses providers for additional eligible costs incurred in managing a direct impact of COVID-19 this includes:

  • labour
  • PPE
  • equipment
  • waste removal.

Approved residential aged care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP), and Home Care Package providers can apply if they have:

  • one or more residents, clients, or staff members who have had to isolate after a COVID-19 test (regardless of a positive or negative result).
  • incurred eligible expenses as a result of that isolation (from the date of their COVID-19 test until the end of their isolation period) between 28 May 2021 and 31 December 2022.

This grant opportunity closes on 31 March 2023. Late applications will not be accepted.

Grant eligibility

Providers can apply for this grant if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Providers are eligible for the grant if they are receiving other support from the Australian Government such as:

  • personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied from the National Medical Stockpile
  • staff through Commonwealth workforce surge measures.

Providers are not eligible if they receive funding from another government source for the same purpose, unless out of pocket costs remain.

For more information, see the Grant Opportunity Guidelines published on GrantConnect.

Making an application

Applications for this grant opened on 4 June 2021 and close at 2pm AEST on 31 March 2023.

Providers can access the application form, Grant Opportunity Guidelines and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on GrantConnect.

Applicants should read the Grant Opportunity Guidelines, FAQs and all associated addenda for each grant before submitting an application.

If you have any questions about this grant, please contact grant.atm@health.gov.au quoting the grant opportunity number (GO4863).

2023 COVID-19 Aged Care Support Grant

The Australian Government has committed funding for the 2023 COVID -19 Aged Care Support Grant. The grant will continue to support eligible Commonwealth funded, approved providers of residential and home care services with costs they have incurred due to COVID-19 outbreaks (or COVID-19 impacted home care recipients) between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023.

More information is available on the GrantConnect website.

Mental health supports

We provide grief and trauma response for people in the aged care sector who have been affected by COVID-19. This helps to make sure that support is available through several organisations:

  • Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement
  • Phoenix Australia
  • Dementia Support Australia.

The support includes improved advocacy assistance as well as grief and bereavement counselling.

Staff also have access to training in:

  • trauma-informed care and self-care
  • post-COVID-19 support for aged care recipients living with dementia
  • post-COVID-19 support for people with adverse physical, social and psychological impacts.

Free webinars are available on grief and trauma:

Visit Head to Health for information about mental health and digital support.

A range of digital and telehealth support services are available for help with mental health during the pandemic. The Australian Government strengthened these services to include vulnerable people and those with severe and complex needs.

Resources

Publications and fact sheets

Webinars

Online training

A 30-minute online module – COVID-19 infection control training module is available for care workers across all health care settings. It includes training specific to aged care.

Other training modules include:

  • personal safety
  • families and visitors – residential care
  • families and visitors – in-home care
  • COVID-19 and aged care
  • outbreak management procedures
  • personal protective equipment
  • laundry
  • if you suspect a person has COVID-19.

These modules take 5 to 10 minutes each. You will receive an acknowledgement of completion certificate for each module.

This training is hosted on an external site, provided by our COVID-19 training partner Aspen Medical.

Register now

Staying informed

To stay up to date on aged care and COVID-19:

You can also read our COVID-19 advice for:

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