COVID-19 vaccine push to protect senior Australians at home

The Federal Government has opened a $20 million grant program for home care providers to increase and report on the vaccination rate of their workforce.

 

More than 175,000 senior Australians are on a home care package with the services they receive provided by around 116,000 home care workers.

 

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the grants would give home care providers extra assistance to ensure the safety of their clients.

 

The approval of the program follows today’s meeting of National Cabinet which continues to act on the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

 

“Although we are seeing 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,” Mr Hunt said.

 

While COVID-19 vaccination is not a mandatory requirement nationally for in-home and community aged care workers, the Government expects to receive advice soon from the medical experts of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) about whether it should be a prerequisite of employment across Australia.

 

COVID-19 vaccination is a mandatory requirement for this workforce in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, and Victoria.

 

Western Australia has announced requirements for COVID-19 vaccination for a range of occupations and workforces in the state, including in-home and community aged care workers.

 

“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.

 

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

 

“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,” Mr Colbeck said.

 

“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.”

 

The Department of Health is working closely with all providers to ensure workforce COVID-19 vaccination reporting 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 COVID-19 vaccination since March 2021.

 

Dedicated vaccination hubs 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 7 days

 

Providers can use the grants announced today to cover costs incurred from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022. This is in addition to existing financial support for aged care providers directly impacted by COVID-19.

 

Applications opened on 5 November. Further details are available on GrantConnect - https://www.grants.gov.au/

 

The funding builds on $13.8 million that was recently made available to support Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) providers increase and report on the vaccination rate of their workforce, as part of the CHSP COVID-19 emergency funding grant opportunity.

 

This funding can assist CHSP providers to meet the costs associated with staff taking leave to attend a vaccination clinic, activities that encourage staff to get vaccinated and the collection and reporting of the vaccination status of workers.

 

Applications are available on GrantConnect and also close on 30 June 2022.

 

5 November 2021.