Aged care providers get $132m more for COVID response

The Federal Government has allocated a further $132.2 million to the aged care sector, as part of its response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The Government has accepted all six COVID-19 recommendations from the Royal Commission that were handed down in October.

The funding includes $63.3m for Medicare Benefits Schedule measures, $57.8m for infection prevention and $11.1m to support a serious incident response scheme.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the measures would help improve access to mental and allied health professionals as well as GPs for people in aged care facilities across the country.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the response to the Royal Commission’s report and updated plan demonstrated the Government’s ongoing commitment to improving care for senior Australians and keeping them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This investment directly addresses issues raised by the Aged Care Royal Commission and will improve and support the health and wellbeing of aged care residents most significantly impacted by COVID-19,” Minister Hunt said.

“For our aged care sector, the revised plan allows flexibility to manage individual situations in each state and territory.

“It also builds on and consolidates the critical and successful work already undertaken by the Commonwealth Government.”

The accepted recommendations include:

  • The Australian Government should immediately fund providers that apply for funding to ensure there are adequate staff available to allow continued visits to people living in residential aged care by their families and friends.
  • The Australian Government should urgently create Medicare Benefits Schedule items to increase the provision of allied health services, including mental health services, to people in aged care during the pandemic. Any barriers, whether real or perceived, to allied health professionals being able to enter residential aged care facilities should be removed unless justified on genuine public health grounds.
  • The Australian Government should establish a national aged care plan for COVID-19 through the National Cabinet in consultation with the aged care sector.
  • All residential aged care homes should have one or more trained infection control officers as a condition of accreditation. The training requirements for these officers should be set by the aged care advisory body we propose.
  • The Australian Government should arrange with the States and Territories to deploy accredited infection prevention and control experts into residential aged care homes to provide training, assist with the preparation of outbreak management plans and assist with outbreaks.

The funding is on top of the $563.3m the Federal Government committed to aged care in September, which brought the Federal support measures to more than $1.5 billion since the pandemic began.

The full Royal Commission is due to be handed down in late February 2021.

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