How has the Government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in aged care facilities?

The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) has been established to co-ordinate and expand resources to address the issue of COVID-19 in aged care facilities.

Victorian Aged Care Response Centre

The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) has been established to co-ordinate and expand resources to address the issue of COVID-19 in aged care facilities. Key focus of the VACRC is to unify the effort across every aspect of the aged care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The VACRC will provide the following functions:

  • establish and maintain unity of effort in response to outbreaks in aged care facilities
  • coordinate a rapid response to outbreaks in aged care facilities
  • mitigate the spread of infection
  • coordinate quality control of the workforce in aged care facilities where residents and/or workers have tested positive for COVID-19
  • work with approved aged care providers to prevent further outbreaks
  • maintain personal protective equipment supplies
  • improve communication with family members of people living in aged care facilities where there has been an outbreak
  • work with aged care providers to manage, coordinate and allocate staff to aged care facilities

National Aged Care Emergency Response Program

The National Aged Care Emergency Response program has been created to provide workforce support to aged care facilities experiencing staff shortages because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program mobilises experienced aged care workers from areas across Australia without community transmission of COVID-19. The initial focus of the program will be on Victoria’s aged care facilities.

Aged care workers will be deployed in teams of six to aged care facilities for four weeks, followed by two weeks of quarantine when they return. The workforce will be funded by the Government and will include registered nurses, enrolled nurses, personal care workers and cleaners.


Emergency leave

Aged care residents are entitled to 52 days of social leave during the financial year without losing their place in the aged care facility. During this time, residents continue to pay ongoing care fees and daily accommodation costs and the Government continues to pay subsidies to the aged care facility. Where residents exceed 52 days, the Government will cease to pay subsidies and the aged care facility can charge residents a reservation fee to retain their place. Emergency leave has been introduced to allow aged care residents to take temporary leave from an aged care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic without using social leave.

Emergency leave is available from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2021. While on emergency leave, residents will continue to pay fees and the Government will continue to pay subsidies as with social leave. After 30 June 2021, residents will have another 52 days of social leave for the financial year.

Original article can be located here.

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