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Published: March 24, 2020
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Letter to aged care workers from Senator, the Hon. Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians

Dear Aged Care Workers,

Australia’s aged care sector is facing an unprecedented emergency.

The spread of COVID-19 impacts everybody, but particularly Senior Australians. It is vital we support those working in aged care to keep Senior Australians across every community healthy and supported during this difficult time. Thank you for everything you are doing. You are doing an exceptional job in challenging circumstances.

Retention Bonus for Workers

On Friday, the Australian Government announced $444.6 million in additional support to help the sector stay strong, including a retention bonus for aged care workers.

As part of this announcement:

• Full-time direct care workers in residential care facilities will receive a payment of up to $800 after tax per quarter, paid for two quarters.
• Full-time home care workers will receive payments of up to $600 after tax per quarter, paid for two quarters.
• Part-time direct care workers receive a pro-rata payment for the amount of time you work. For example, if you work two days a week, you’ll receive 40 per cent of the payment.
• Payments will be made via your employer with the first payment expected in June (for the preceding quarter). The second payment will be paid in September.

Read more:

Letter to aged care workers from Senator, the Hon. Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians (.pdf)

Published: March 24, 2020
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Deadline for aged care submissions extended to 30 June 2020

The deadline for submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will be extended by two months to 30 June 2020.

Last week the Commissioners suspended all hearings, workshops and group consultations of the Royal Commission for the time being, subject to ongoing review.

The Commissioners recognise that meaningful engagement with the aged care sector during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is not possible and have therefore allowed more time for their involvement in the inquiry.

Read more:

Deadline for aged care submissions extended to 30 June 2020

Published: March 24, 2020
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Further arrangements for CHSP providers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Advice for CHSP Social Support Group providers

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are new restrictions on non-essential gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups. From 23 March 2020, all non-essential gatherings are suspended for four weeks.

If you provide Social Support Groups and group activities, you should suspend them for four weeks. You can continue to support clients by re-directing their funds to other non-face-to-face activities and support services.

Please communicate any change to clients and their carers and families as soon as possible.

Flexibility provisions

CHSP service providers now have complete flexibility to re-allocate up to 100 per cent of their funding between their funded service types in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Providers may only use flexibility provisions to transfer funding between already funded services.

Read more:

Further arrangements for CHSP providers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published: March 24, 2020
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UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS MEASURES

Australian governments are working together to slow the spread of coronavirus to save lives.

Every extra bit of time allows us to better prepare our health system and put measures in place to protect Australian lives.

We will be living with this virus for at least six months, so social distancing measures to slow this virus down must be sustainable for at least that long to protect Australian lives, allow Australia to keep functioning and keep Australians in jobs.

The Prime Minister, state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers met on 24 March 2020 as the National Cabinet.

We are leading the world on testing with more than 161,000 Australians tested and around 2,000 Australians confirmed cases. In contrast to many countries, the majority of Australian cases of coronavirus have been from people returning overseas or direct contacts with people who had been overseas.

However, National Cabinet noted that there has been a significant growth in the number of cases in Australia, with a significant number of Australians returning from overseas and small community outbreaks associated with returned travellers.

National Cabinet reiterated that practicing good hygiene and keeping a healthy physical distance between individuals is our most powerful weapon in fighting this virus and saving lives.

The highest priority should be placed on social isolation measures as well as strict and rapid contact tracing of individuals. It is paramount that contact tracing occur quickly and thoroughly and that public data is available to support this effort.

Leaders again call on all Australian to do their bit to save the lives of other Australians.

Read more:

UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS MEASURES

24 Mar 2020 – PRESS CONFERENCE – AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT HOUSE – TRANSCRIPT

25 Mar 2020 – PRESS CONFERENCE – AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT HOUSE, ACT – TRANSCRIPT

25 Mar 2020 – NATIONAL COVID-19 COORDINATION COMMISSION – MEDIA RELEASE

Published: March 24, 2020
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COVID-19: Advice on visit guidelines

Please take note of the below clarification on applying the new guidelines on visitor access.

The guidelines include:

• Limiting visits to a short duration.
• Limiting visits to a maximum of two visitors at one time per day. These may be immediate social supports (family members, close friends) or professional service or advocacy.
• Visits should be conducted in a resident’s room, outdoors, or in a specific area designated by the RACF, rather than communal areas where the risk of transmission to residents is greater.
• No large group visits or gatherings, including social activities or entertainment, should be permitted at this time.

No school groups of any size should be allowed to visit RACFs. Visitors should also be encouraged to practice social distancing practices where possible, including maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres.

Children aged 16 years or less must be permitted to visit only by exception, as they are generally unable to comply with hygiene measures. Exemptions can be assessed on a case-by-case basis, for example, where the resident is in palliative care.

In regards to the ‘professional service’ cohort the Department has been receiving some feedback that some clinical care professionals are being prevented from entering some facilities. The guidelines were designed specifically to allow ‘professional services’ – this includes GPs, Pharmacists, clinical care teams, DBMAS, SBRT, etc.

Read more:

Recommendations to Residential Aged Care Facilities

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines for outbreaks in residential care facilities (.pdf)

Advice on visit guidelines

Published: March 23, 2020
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COVID-19 – A message to approved providers of residential aged care services from the Commissioner

COVID-19 is radically reshaping our daily experiences in ways that we could scarcely have imagined even a week or two ago. At this time, all of us who work in aged care are highly conscious of our responsibilities in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of older people receiving aged care and services.

Protecting vulnerable communities

International evidence tells us older people, and particularly those with chronic illness, are most likely to be seriously affected if they contract COVID-19, and for some, this might lead to premature death.

As you would be aware, to help protect vulnerable communities, the Commonwealth Government has adopted recommendations of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) – the key national decision-making committee for health emergencies – regarding restrictions on visits to residential aged care services. The Commonwealth Department of Health has subsequently issued guidance on the Department of Health website to help you implement the new provisions.

Read more:

COVID-19 – A message to approved providers of residential aged care services from the Commissioner (.pdf)

Published: March 23, 2020
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Retirement living and the COVID-19 pandemic: 10 legal tips for retirement living operators

Published by: Donna Rayner, Rosemary Southgate, Anita Courtney & Melanie Tan

Following the World Health Organisation’s declaration that COVID-19 is a global pandemic, the Australian Governor General also recently made a declaration under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) that a human biosecurity emergency exists in Australia. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases in Australia continue to rise and this will present significant ongoing challenges to the retirement living industry for months to come.

Retirement living operators who fail to adequately manage the risk may face legal and/or regulatory action, and risk long-term reputational damage in a highly-charged socio-political climate.

As retirement villages are governed by their respective State or Territory retirement village legislation, operators should be aware that Federal Government directions relating to aged care do not apply to villages. Rather, operators will need to look to Federal Government directions that apply to the general public and any relevant State or Territory (as the case may be) government orders/directions. For example, all States and Territories have declared a state of emergency pursuant to their relevant Health Act.

If you do operate an aged care facility please see our recent COVID-19 Alerts from our Aged Care Team here.

Read more:

Retirement living and the COVID-19 pandemic: 10 legal tips for retirement living operators

Just in – Aged Care COVID-19 Visitation Restrictions – Federal Government Announcement

Published: March 23, 2020
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Information for the Aged Care Sector – Issue 2020/05

In this issue:

• My Aged Care AUSkey users: change the method you use to access My Aged Care now!
• Services Australia Aged Care Quarterly Review
• Understanding and accessing Department of Veterans’ Affairs Services Webinar Series
• National Advance Care Planning Week

Residential Care:

• The National Aged Care Quality Indicator Pilot

Read more:

Information for the Aged Care Sector – Issue 2020/05 (.pdf)

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