Aged Care Situation Report highlights sector challenges

Monday, 07 February, 2022

Aged Care Situation Report highlights sector challenges

A Situation Report on the aged-care sector by the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) paints a grim picture of the stresses faced by aged-care providers and their staff during the Omicron surge.

Support from governments, both federal and state, is critical to ensuring aged-care providers can protect and provide care to vulnerable older Australians, said the AACC in a statement.

“But the lack of key resources, particularly since early December, has placed enormous additional strain on the sector with an average of a quarter of shifts in aged care left unfilled. Tragically, in January this year — a single month — there have been 499 aged-care residents die due to COVID-19 (figure from Dept of Health as at 31 January 2022). This is more than the total number of aged-care residents that sadly passed away in 2021.”

As detail emerges of the recently announced retention payments for aged-care staff it is extremely disappointing to learn that many staff will be excluded from receiving the payments, according to the AACC.

“For example, staff working in the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) will miss out altogether, as will Home Care and Residential Aged Care workers in maintenance, reception and lifestyle program roles. This makes it all the more difficult because in Home Care and Residential Care some staff will receive the payment while their colleagues will not — despite them all facing similar risks and work challenges.”

The AACC’s Aged Care Situation Report sets out the challenges facing the sector as it stands now and what it needs from government to meet those challenges and maintain services and protect vulnerable older Australians. The report highlights some of the key areas the sector needs support for:

  • Appropriate payments for aged-care workers that reflect their additional effort and risks as they do all they can to keep residents and clients safe from Covid-19.
  • Better surge workforce arrangements to ensure quality and services are maintained in the current and future COVID-19 waves.
  • Funding to cover the increased costs providers are incurring in implementing measures to protect residents, clients and staff.
  • Reliable supplies and more efficient distribution of RATs and PPE.
  • Better data on infections and vaccinations so risks can be better managed.

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