The $444.6 million of extra funding is for aged care facilities to tackle the spread of the virus and comes on top of the $100 million last week to support workforce initiatives last week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the extra funding recognises the staffing challenges that aged care will face if existing staff are subject to self-isolation due to the virus or are unable to attend work – an issue that has already affected providers overseas.
The Government also says it is relaxing the criteria for COVID-19 testing with aged care workers to be made a priority.
The new funding includes:
- $234.9 million for a COVID-19 ‘retention bonus’ to ensure the continuity of the workforce for staff in both residential and home care.
- $78.3 million in additional funding for residential care to support continuity of workforce supply.
- $26.9 million to supplement the viability of residential aged care facilities (including National Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Program and Multi-Purpose Services and homeless providers).
- $92.2 million in additional support to home care providers and organisations which deliver the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), including for services such as Meals on Wheels.
- $12.3 million to support myagedcare to respond to the needs of older Australians.
With the Federal Budget delayed from May to October, there are concerns about the long-term viability and sustainability of the sector.
A group of peaks and providers says the funding “falls short of what will be required to maintain all of the essential aged care services needed during COVID-19”.
“Our sector is at the frontline of a major public health crisis and the sector will soon make a joint proposal to the Government, outlining the further measures required to guarantee that care for older Australians does not suffer further through the pandemic,” they say.