A Commonwealth funding injection of $444 million to further support the aged care industry and older Australians during the COVID-19 outbreak has been applauded by Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia as a necessary step to maintain aged care staffing levels and expand home care services.
The measures announced today by the Prime Minister will help secure the stability of the aged care industry, which could be drastically impacted by any potential spread of COVID-19 to aged care staff and residents.
COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, said the Government is proactively stepping up and responding appropriately to the significant risks the virus outbreak poses to the aged care industry and therefore to very vulnerable older people.
“The aged care sector will play a crucial role in Australia’s response to this situation,” said Mr Yates. “Aged care is responsible for the wellbeing of a large group of people who are particularly vulnerable to this disease and its worst effects. The consequences of not having sufficient numbers of skilled aged care workers and closing facilities would be fatal.
“While action on residential care is obviously important, this package also provides much-needed support and very welcome support for home care services, which many more older Australians rely upon and which will be increasingly important if further social distancing and isolation measures are required.
“This funding injection is one of a number of steps our Government will need to take to secure the viability and quality of aged care if the current COVID-19 situation develops into a broader health crisis.”
The funding package includes:
- $234.9 million for a staff ‘retention bonus’ for both residential and home care staff, which will create an incentive for workers to say with their employers to receive significant tax-free bonuses
- $78.3 million in additional funding for residential care staffing to support the supply of additional staff
- $26.9 million to supplement the viability of residential aged care facilities, including the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Program, Multi-Purpose Services and Homeless services and others experiencing significant financial risk
- $92.2 million for home care providers and organisations which deliver the Commonwealth Home Support Program in order to enable the delivery of additional in-home services and meals
- $12.3 million to support the My Aged Care service with additional staff, as My Aged Care is experiencing an increased level of demand
Mr Yates said COTA will continue to work closely with the government to monitor aged care needs and suggest appropriate responses.
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439; Hannah Craft 0423 377 965