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Federal Government needs comprehensive plan for expanding aged care workforce given new national approach to COVID outbreaks

Release date: 31 Dec 2021

National Cabinet’s new definition of a COVID-positive close contact will help ease the pressure on COVID testing but its consequences for the aged care workforce must be better modelled and a comprehensive plan put in place, according to Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA).

 

ACSA CEO Paul Sadler said the aged care workforce was already experiencing a shortfall and is now approaching crisis given the pressures of two years of the Covid pandemic.
 
“The new year is bringing unprecedented challenges for the aged care system and the lesson of the past two years is the Government must minimise the risk by planning now,” he said.
 
“National Cabinet yesterday moved to ease the strain on the overburdened state and territory testing systems but it must now ensure the stretched aged care system isn’t unintentionally pushed to the brink.
 
“The reality of the current greater circulation of covid in the community is that it's already resulting in an increase in staff who become covid positive or must isolate at home in states and territories with high community transmission.
 
“Providers must have adequate government support to maintain a workforce that can continue providing high-quality care and services and help protect residents, their families and staff, while furloughing covid-affected staff.
 
“In the medium-term, this is a wake-up call for action to maintain and grow the numbers, skills and experience of the national aged care workforce. Experts are also predicting a competitive market for workers next year, as migration slows, and we can’t afford to lose staff who may find the market pays more for baristas or waiters.
 
“National Cabinet will meet next Wednesday and we’re calling for clear and workable guidance on furloughing staff, and a pathway for addressing the medium-to-long term workforce challenges.
 
“In addition, aged care residents and workers must be at the top of the queue for booster vaccination and PPE, along with other healthcare and essential workers.

“The availability of PPE is also a challenge now with many aged care providers indicating they are having difficulties procuring supplies. Governments should release adequate supplies of PPE from the national stockpile for the aged care sector,” Mr Sadler said.
 

Paul Sadler is available for interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0455 111 593

 

As the peak body representing church, charitable and community-based organisations providing accommodation and care services to older people, people with a disability and their carers, ACSA can be contacted for comment on issues affecting the industry.

Areas ACSA may provide media commentary on include:  

  • Aged care reforms
  • Residential aged care
  • Home care
  • Independent and retirement living
  • Housing for older Australians
  • Palliative care
  • The aged care workforce in Australia

 

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