The Morrison Government will scale up aged care support programs in Victoria and across Australia with an additional $171.5 million to boost a new COVID-19 response plan agreed by all states and territories at National Cabinet today.
The package is in addition to age care support already announced during the COVID-19 pandemic, with funding now totalling more than $1 billion from the Commonwealth Government.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more funding would be used to continue current programs for infection control training and surge workforce staff, alongside greater compliance by the Aged Care Commissioner and coordinated response centres.
“Our plan for combatting the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic is based on the best medical advice and continues to evolve, as the crisis continues, as we do all we can to protect older Australians,” the Prime Minister said.
“We are committed to supporting aged care recipients, workers and providers in Victoria to respond to the ongoing crisis and we are putting in place critical measures to ensure we remain prepared across the country.
“It is critical to have a coordinated approach as we battle this virus and I thank all Premiers and Chief Ministers for their agreement at National Cabinet today, which does just that.
“However, as long as community transmission is occurring in Australia, we will continue to face significant challenges in aged care but we will do everything we can to stop the spread and protect old Australians.”
The package includes:
- More support for the Aged Care workforce:
- $81 million for additional surge workforce and increased training for aged care workers.
- $8.4 million for supplementary payments to include quarantine costs and interstate staff
- $50 million to account for additional demand for retention bonus measures, (noting eligibility has not changed)
- $9.1 million for the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, established with the Victorian Government, to boost their additional workforce while undergoing more training, providing a workforce that could quickly respond to outbreaks in other states;
- $12. 5 million to support residents and their families with increased availability of grief and trauma support services to assist aged care residents and their families who have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak
- Supporting more compliance and quality checks on aged care providers by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, checking on preparations and responses to COVID-19 outbreaks.
To step up this engagement, National Cabinet has endorsed a plan to boost aged care preparedness for rapid emergency response to COVID-19.
States and territories each agreed a plan to set up aged care emergency response operations centres in their own jurisdiction, as needed.
The operations centres will be formed by mutual agreement between the Commonwealth, states and territories, which will fully integrated with public health and aged care emergency response arrangements
To support continued Commonwealth, state and territory collaboration, a time-limited AHPPC Aged Care Advisory Group will also be established, bringing together a broad range of critical expertise about the aged care sector, infection control and emergency preparedness.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was imperative that the Government adopt a multi-pronged approach to respond to the pandemic in aged care, which was bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
“Our comprehensive action will provide assurance to residents, families aged care providers, and the Australian community. This builds on our national aged care COVID-19 response plan which commenced in January,” Minister Hunt said.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said communication and support for residents and their families and loved ones is essential at this difficult time.
“We are also providing $1.5 million in funding to ensure appropriate and regular communication from Health Direct to families and loved ones of aged care residents impacted by COVID-19,” Minister Colbeck said.
“We are also increasing the availability of grief and trauma support services to assist aged care residents and their families.”
It is critical that quality care is maintained in all aged care services across the country, Minister Colbeck said.
“We are further supporting the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to continue its critical work supporting aged care providers across the country to prepare for and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks with additional $9.1 million in vital funding.”