The Federal Government’s decision to extend or reinstate measures to support workers infected by COVID-19 in the third wave now sweeping the nation has been welcomed by the Aged & Community Care Providers Association.
ACCPA interim CEO Paul Sadler said the National Cabinet meeting decision recommending the wearing of masks indoors and maintenance of social distancing is also welcome as community transmission of Covid poses the greatest risk to older Australians in aged care.
“The extension until the end of September of pandemic leave payments for casual workers will provide assurance to aged care workers that they can safely isolate while ill and be able to support themselves and their families,” he said.
“We also welcome the decision to continue to provide RATs to concession card holders.
“However, we are disappointed there has not been any additional funding commitment for infection prevention measures for residential and home care providers, or in relation to surge workforce supply.”
Sadler said ACCPA has recently raised these concerns with the new Federal Government in the face of the alarming rise in COVID-19 outbreaks – with 120 more aged care homes affected in the past week.
“There are now 857 – or 31 per cent – of aged care homes managing Covid outbreaks,” he said.
“Already, more than 5200 residents and 2700 staff are infected.
“Over 2100 residents have died this year.
“We want to help providers to avoid at all costs a repeat of the first Omicron wave at the beginning of the year.
“There have been 223 deaths in the past two weeks.”
Sadler said a key pressure point for all providers of residential care, home and community care remains availability of surge workforce.
“It is disappointing that the government has not made an additional commitment in relation to surge workforce given the peak of this current wave is expected to hit in the next few weeks,” he said.
“At the beginning of this year we had aged care providers on their knees, many with up to 30 per cent of their workforce ill or close contacts and unavailable to work.
“We are grateful the ADF will continue to remain available until mid-August.”