Home care providers have been given a grant to increase and report on the vaccination rate of their workforce.

The $20 million grant program from the Federal Government will give home care providers extra assistance to ensure the safety of their clients.

This will be in addition to existing financial support for aged care providers directly impacted by COVID-19.

The funding builds on the $13.8 million that was recently made available to support Commonwealth Home Support Programme providers, as part of the CHSP COVID-19 emergency funding grant opportunity.

It will assist CHSP providers to cover costs associated with staff taking leave to attend a vaccination clinic, activities encouraging staff to get vaccinated and the collection and reporting of the vaccination status of workers.

Greg Hunt

Providers can use the grants to cover costs incurred from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022. Applications for the grants opened on November 5.

The approval of the program came about after last week’s meeting of National Cabinet.

Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care, said there has been a “great take up” of the vaccination in older Australians, with almost 92 per cent of people over 70 having received two doses.

“It is imperative this workforce is vaccinated to minimise the risk of COVID-19 entering the homes of vulnerable seniors,” he said in a statement.

Government working with providers

The Department of Health is working closely with all providers to ensure the reporting of COVID-19 vaccination in the workforce is up to date and accurate.

“Good data will help us support public health measures and inform any adjustments we need to make to better support vaccinations for workers,” Mr Hunt said.

In-home and community aged care workers have had priority access to the vaccines since March this year.

Dedicated vaccination hubs, which initially opened to residential aged care and disability workers, are now available to in-home and community aged care workers.

GPs, pharmacies and government vaccination clinics have also been asked to support in-home and community aged care workers with appointments within seven days.

Vaccination status of workforce growing

Senator Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, said the vaccination status of the workforce is continuing to grow.

Richard Colbeck

“As at 4 November, home care providers reported 85 per cent of home care workers had received a first dose and 69.5 per cent a second dose,” he said in a statement.

“These grants, up to $48,000, will help approved providers support their workforce to get vaccinated.

“It will also assist with mandatory reporting of the vaccination status of their workforce on the My Aged Care Portal, which came into effect in July.”

National standards across all states

Currently, it is only mandatory in certain states for the home care sector to get vaccinated, including the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.

The government expects to receive advice soon from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee about whether it should be a prerequisite of employment across Australia.

“Irrespective of the advice from the AHPPC, I urge workers to take up vaccination now to protect themselves, their families and the people in their care,” Mr Hunt said.

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