Home | Industry+Policy | Government support for aged care sector in COVID-19 fight: opinion

Government support for aged care sector in COVID-19 fight: opinion

In these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no argument that the most vulnerable sector is the elderly and aged care.

When most people are home self-isolating, aged care workers, along with their health colleagues, are on the front line to keep residents as safe as possible from the COVID-19 virus.

While the media often carry negative headlines about our industry, or we talk amongst ourselves about the challenges of funding, we often forget to acknowledge the contributions and self-sacrifice of front line aged care staff to ensure our seniors receive the best care.

Their contribution will be remembered for years to come and we are all inspired by their dedication and commitment to going beyond the call of duty.

Without a doubt, the pandemic has added a significant layer of challenges to those already faced by the industry, such as limited resources, financial constraints and staffing issues.

The news, however, is not all bleak. There is enough of that around. It is important to carefully analyse the opportunities provided in a financial lifeline from the Federal Government. For our sector, the blow has been softened to an extent.

COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program

The Department of Health has undertaken some initiatives to support aged care providers. One of them is the ‘COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program’.

The government is seeking to achieve the following outcomes through this program:

  • Consumers of aged care services directly impacted by COVID-19 receive safe, quality care; and
  • The financial costs of managing direct impacts of COVID-19 are reduced for eligible aged care services.

There will be a total funding package of $52.9 million, excluding GST ($26.45m in FY 2019-20 and $26.45m in FY 2020-21) available over two years to residential aged care providers (RAC), National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (NATSI) providers and Home Care providers whose services are directly impacted .

The program will reimburse approved aged care providers for eligible expenditure incurred due to the direct impact of COVID-19.

The grant amount will be 100 per cent of the eligible expenditure up to the maximum grant value for each RAC, NATSI and Home Care providers.

For RAC and ATSI providers, there will be two components of funding:

  1. A base funding allocation of $20,000 plus; and
  2. An additional $2,000 for each operational bed/place.

For home care, there will be maximum funding of $650 per client.

The providers are responsible for expenditure which exceed the maximum amount and other ineligible expenditure.

Residential aged care providers and NATSIFACP providers

Eligible activities are activities associated with managing direct impacts of COVID-19, including the following:

  • providing additional staff to manage care in a service with residents who are either infected or isolated due to COVID-19
  • replacing existing staff who are infected or isolated due to COVID-19
  • training staff and residents/clients in infection control, and
  • accessing equipment and resources required to manage a service in an infection control environment, including linen and bedding, paper products, PPE, disinfection and cleaning agents.

Increased or replaced staff may include registered nurses, direct care staff, hotel services staff (catering and cleaning), diversional therapy and activities staff, allied health staff, maintenance staff and administrative staff.

Home care providers

Eligible activities are activities associated with managing direct impacts of COVID-19, including the following:   

  • providing increased staff to manage care and broader requirements in a service with clients who are infected or isolated due to COVID-19
  • replacing existing staff who are infected or isolated due to COVID-19
  • training staff in infection control, and
  • accessing equipment and resources to manage infection control for staff including PPE. 

Increased or replaced staff may include registered nurses, direct care staff, case management staff, diversional therapy and activities staff, allied health staff and administrative staff.

Eligible expenditure

The providers can be reimbursed for eligible expenditure they have incurred on eligible activities as set out in the eligible expenditure criteria:

  • salary and wages of new and existing employees
  • contractors’ expenses, and
  • purchasing and hire of equipment and resources for managing infection control.

Other expenses related to staff training in infection control and the cost of an independent audit of eligible expenditure (if the department requests one).

To be eligible, expenditure must:

  • be a direct cost of managing direct COVID-19 impacts, and
  • be incurred by you for required eligible activities.

Although aged care providers are facing a mammoth challenge and the allocated amount is not going to solve the COVID-19 issue completely, it will definitely assist the aged care sector to stay strong in its fight against COVID-19.

Detailed documentation is available to provide a greater understanding of the criteria and The Ageing Equation encourages providers to prepare applications based on solid evidence.

Safdar Ali is a director and founder of The Ageing Equation.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*