Immense effect on the Aged Care Sector due to the Coronavirus.
The emergence of COVID-19 has already impacted many industries and will further impact in the short to medium term. However, given the increased vulnerability to this virus faced by older people, perhaps the most at risk industry to this virus is the aged care industry.
Over the past few months the government has identified the aged care sector as a vulnerable industry to COVID-19 and has provided a large amount of support to the industry. This support includes $2.4 billion which is going straight into aged care, $101.2 million put towards training workers in infection control as well as helping aged care providers hire more staff. Finally almost $450 million was pledged to assist in retention of aged care and home care staff. Clearly this shows that the government are serious in attempting to minimise the effects of COVID-19 on the aged care industry, both economically for the aged care providers, and for the residents as well, by ensuring enough staff are available during this outbreak.
Despite the government pledging a large amount of support to the aged care industry, the economic effects of COVID-19 will be significant. The aged care industry was already facing significant financial challenges before COVID-19, and now face substantial added costs. Staffing costs have increased due to staff not working when needing to isolate or when sick, or due to the closure of schools. In addition, the restrictions on visitors have required additional staffing to aid the movement of visitors coming in and out of the homes.
The impact will be more severely felt by smaller providers, as they may not be able to cover the additional costs brought on by COVID-19. This has led to predictions of closures of some aged care providers, which would have a detrimental impact on some local communities. An additional impact to aged care providers, which would significantly impact their bottom line, is the risk that families could begin to take their loved ones out of the facilities due to the increased fear and uncertainty around COVID-19.
On a more personal level, the restrictions on number of visitors allowed, as well as the length of the visit, will impact residents in that these visitors often provide additional care. Such measures designed to negate the effects of COVID-19 may in fact impact quite negatively on the aged care residents.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 is having an immense effect on the aged care sector, and the effect will be far reaching, with some consequences not yet even discovered. The government has identified the need for funding, and have provided much funding already, however in an already challenging industry, more will no doubt be needed in the long term.