$1.2 billion to help protect and prepare senior Australians for winter

The Federal Government is allocating a further $1.2 billion to prepare and protect senior Australians against COVID-19 and influenza this winter.


The funding includes ensuring stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) in aged care facilities, more infection prevention and control training for nurses, more vaccination training, continued COVID-19 testing for residents and staff, and financial support for providers are delivered to manage the direct impacts of COVID-19.


The new funding focuses principally on residential aged care and will also benefit senior Australians who access aged care services in their own homes.


The Department of Health, through the National Medical Stockpile (NMS), will purchase and pre-deploy PPE for all residential aged care facilities (RACFs) at an estimated cost of $964.9 million. This PPE will be delivered to all RACFs nationally, providing enough PPE to equip a service for two weeks. In the event of an outbreak, RACFs can access more PPE.


An additional $124.9 million will be allocated to help residential aged care providers to manage the direct impacts of COVID-19 on their facilities and residents, including the costs of additional workforce.


The funding will extend until 31 December 2022, supporting providers by reimbursing COVID-19 associated costs through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension grant opportunity.


It supports the ‘ready to deploy’ surge workforce, which RACFs can access to ensure continuity of care for residents and provide essential workforce support.


The Government will continue to support aged care nurses to access critical IPC training by providing up to 2,907 training places through an investment of $37.6 million.


This training equips nurses in RACFs with the skills to improve IPC practices in aged care facilities and respond appropriately if an outbreak occurs.


This funding will reduce the financial burden on residential aged care providers of having nursing staff achieve IPC qualifications by reimbursing costs associated with training through a grant process.


Funding of $50.4 million over 4 years will also ensure RACFs are better placed to provide vaccinations to the senior Australians in their care, through more training for Authorised Nurse Immunisers (ANIs).


The funding supports 4,000 training places for registered nurses in RACFs to become ANIs. It will also cover the associated costs for RACF providers of study leave for staff, and backfilling nursing roles.


COVID-19 testing of residents and staff of RACFs remains an important infection control measure and will continue with an extension of the existing testing contract with Sonic Healthcare. This funding, worth $22.1 million, will deliver continued COVID-PCR testing within RACFs to 31 December 2022.


The Australian Government is adding a further $7.9 million for Primary Health Networks to deploy medical deputies, nurse practitioners and practice nurses to conduct home visits to COVID-19 positive patients in RACFs.


12 March 2022.