Aged Care Providers Welcome ADF Workforce Assistance

Media Release

7 February 2022

Aged care providers welcome today’s announcement that up to 1700 Australian Defence Force personnel will be made available to help alleviate the current crisis being experienced by many aged care homes.

The Prime Minister today committed ADF teams and 15 military planners to assist the Department of Health to plan targeted assistance to those age services providers most in need.

For the past two months the impact of the Omicron wave has meant that aged care providers and their staff across the country have struggled to maintain essential services and the care and protection of vulnerable older Australians.

While the decision won’t alleviate all of the challenges currently faced by aged care providers, it will make a practical difference on the ground. We look forward to discussing the development in more detail with the government at the earliest opportunity.

The AACC and unions have called for involvement of the ADF since early this year to try to support providers who are reporting up to a quarter of shifts left vacant due to COVID in aged care homes.

Yesterday sector representatives wrote to Ministers Hunt and Colbeck proposing the establishment of a National Aged Care COVID Coordination Centre to provide oversight and control of the COVID response in aged care, using established emergency management approaches.

The Centre would be responsible for planning and supports for the prevention of outbreaks, the management of responses to outbreaks, and the recovery from outbreaks. In practice, the Centre would ensure that services and staff on the frontline in aged care are better prepared for future waves, and not left short of PPE and RAT. And, if surge workforce capacity is exhausted, the Centre can call on the ADF to deploy personnel so that services and standards are maintained.

The AACC continues to press the government in the following areas:

• Appropriate payments for aged care workers that reflect their additional effort and risks as they do all they can to keep residents and clients safe from COVID19
• Better surge workforce arrangements to ensure quality and services are maintained in the current and future COVID19 waves
• Funding to cover the increased costs providers are incurring in implementing measures to protect residents, clients and staff
• Reliable supplies and more efficient distribution of RATs and PPE
• Better data on infections and vaccinations so risks can be better managed.