The unprecedented event of COVID-19 has changed many aspects of all industries and is forecasted to have long-term implications in the foreseeable future. Given the high risk and volatility within the Aged Care industry, there is a greater unexpected pressure that could be unavoidable.
Currently, the Royal Commission is focused on improving the health and well-being culture within Aged Care services. The aim is to alleviate the pressure and highlight the importance by tackling high risk areas.
The Royal Commission is aiming to publish a final report on the Aged Care Sector in 2021 to provide for long-term reform, although within the last few months there was confirmation of two additional government grant support programs to financially support Aged Care providers directly impacted by COVID-19.
The Aged Care Support Program provides an additional $61 million in conjunction with prior stimuluses provided to industries, which aims to reimburse aged care providers who have directly been affected by the pandemic outbreak impacting the aged care facility.
The prerequisite factors in which providers can become eligible are:
- One or more COVID-19 infected or isolated residents/clients/staff
- Incurred expenses between 24 February 2020 and 31 May 2021
There is also the ‘Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19’ (SACWIC), which aims to give funding to eligible providers to cover additional costs as a result of supporting workers during the pandemic. This is currently limited to COVID-19 hotspots of the Melbourne and Mitchell Shire area, but if future trends deem this necessary, funding could be expected nationwide.
This is in response to the outbreaks of COVID-19 having a direct negative correlation on the small-to-medium sized providers potentially facing extreme financial hardship and pressures throughout the pandemic. With greater emphasis and stimulation provided by the Government, such as the Cashflow Boost and the Job keeper subsidies, providers have been able to maintain operations throughout this period. However, it’s the foreseeable future that has many industries and specifically, the varied households concerned as they estimate the impact and pressures to come.
The household’s impact and financial pressures are the key unknown variable related to Aged Care providers. Studies show the disparities across different types of household groups based on their age/financial brackets. These studies significantly highlight the importance for targeted income support systems to be provided to assist families suffering hardship due to lack of income during the pandemic. Given the uncertainty, the key risk could be the dependence on government stimulus for providers and households to continue to alleviate pressures and costs in the foreseeable future.