How has the Coronavirius affected Age Care Facilities and it’s Residents?
This has been the worst time for anyone to enter aged an aged care facility. The Coronavirus is deadly to vulnerable people especially the elderly, those with respiratory ailments, & is highly contagious. Once the virus gets into an aged care facility the consequences have been disastrous. The media has made an example of aged care facilities where the virus has killed residents. Consequently, in order to protect their residents from the ravages of this virus, aged care facilities have had to take extreme measures, like ensuring any new resident is quarantined for at least 14 days (meaning new residents have not been able to leave their rooms). Some facilities have restricted the number of visitors or the length of time a visitor can remain, or have completely stopped any visitors at all. This has been particularly difficult for the family & the resident (especially those with dementia), as their first few weeks in an aged care facility is a bit like your first day at school, you don’t know anyone & there is no contact with a loved one to help settle you down. To be fair the great majority of aged care workers have stepped up & gone the extra mile for new residents to help them acclimatise, but it has still been extremely difficult for new residents & their families.
The aged care facilities are caught between the conflicting positions of keeping their residents safe from COVID-19 OR letting people into their facilities to visit (which increases the chance of the virus getting in), either way it has been tough for facilities as well. I guess this is one of those times where we ALL need to be considerate of each other’s difficulties & issues, as this pandemic is not easy to navigate.
The Good News
Applies mostly to new residents moving into aged care. Due to virus scaring people away from residential aged care, many facilities have vacancies, consequently vacant beds in aged care facilities need to be filled (a vacant bed costs them a great deal of money). In order to fill aged care beds some facilities are offering great deals, they may be reducing their Accommodation bond, or reducing their Additional service fee, or providing free respite or even giving 1 or 2 months free from the Basic Daily Care Fee if the resident agrees to become permanent after a respite period.
Balance Aged Care Specialists are aware of many or all of these offers, & if you know someone who may need residential aged care, why not call us to see what offers you may be able to take advantage of.
The Federal Budget 2020
You don’t have to be living under a rock to know that Australia’s aged care industry is under resourced, there is just simply not enough money to be able to fund the right amount of staffing & pay them at a decent rate that attracts the best carers. The choices are that the Government funding is increased significantly or the public pays more. Either way it is a tough ask, the public in general pay quite a lot for aged care now. The Government is also spending $11 BILLION dollars a year now, primarily funding poorer people into aged care, but also funding everybody in aged care, & the fact that we have a growing elderly population is only going to increase the cost for Government (which is after all tax payer money).
An interim report was released to the Government (whilst we wait for the final report from the Royal Commission) which is bound to have significant changes to both operation activities & funding arrangements. The interim report highlighted urgent areas that calls for action on include;
- The deployment of accredited infection prevention and control experts into aged care homes across Australia;
- More funding to providers to ensure there are adequate staff available to deal with external visitors, and
- A new Medicare Benefits Schedule to increase the provision of allied health and mental health services.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck confirmed the Morrison Government would accept all of the recommendations in the report and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said on that implementation was substantially under way.
“There will be more to say about all of this in the Budget” Mr Cormann said.
The government has committed more than $1.6 billion in extra resources to aged care since the beginning of the COVID crisis, and had immediately committed a further $40 million in relation to various measures.