Aged care minister Richard Colbeck has moved to assure providers they haven’t been forgotten in the COVID-19 crisis, but has stopped short of supporting calls from the sector for additional funding.
Aged care providers this month presented a $1.3 billion COVID-19 rescue package to the federal government, including a proposal for $250 million in support for home care calculated on the provision of an extra $10 a day per client to meet increased direct care costs.
Senator Colbeck has told Australian Ageing Agenda the Federal Government will continue to work closely with aged care stakeholders.
“The aged care sector and its workforce are not forgotten in this crisis,” Mr Colbeck told AAA.
He reiterated the $545 million aged care funding measures announced in March to support the workforce and providers during COVID-19 and the surge workforce measures and support for remote providers announced over the weekend.
But he did not commit to providing what the aged care sector is calling for in its proposal.
“Our aged care workers are doing a remarkable job under enormous pressure.
“They will remain a focus as we continue to ensure the health and wellbeing of senior Australians,” Mr Colbeck said.
The aged care peaks developed the proposal because of an inadequate response from government about provider’s underlying financial situation, which they say is being pushed closer to breaking point because of the pandemic.
The Opposition is also calling for more support for the aged care sector.
Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors Julie Collins said the government must do more to support Australia’s aged care system and protect older Australians from COVID-19.
“The Morrison Government is yet to detail how it will ensure the viability of aged care providers through this incredibly difficult period,” Ms Collins said.
“It is vitally important workers and providers are supported to ensure that we limit the transmission of COVID-19 in aged care.”
She reiterated calls for targeted support for casual aged care workers who need to take sick leave.
“Casual workers in aged care must be supported to take leave and not be left worse off. This is crucial to limiting the transmission of COVID-19.”