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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

ADF aged care support extended

Residential aged care homes experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks will be able to receive help from Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel until the end of September, with the Federal Government announcing an extension of support for the sector.

The Government says it will extend and increase the ADF support for aged care beyond the current end date of August 12 until September 30.

Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells said the decision reflected the seriousness of the Omicron COVID-19 variant high community transmission rates and the challenges faced by aged care homes as a result

“When sufficient staff can’t be found during an outbreak, they will be able to ask the Department of Health and Aged Care to deploy a surge workforce, or ADF team, to support them through their immediate crisis. This is expected to be for short periods to allow more homes to be supported during outbreaks,” said Minister Wells.

“We need to protect our most vulnerable during this winter wave, and support from the ADF until September 30 will help buttress the workforce crisis we have seen in the past.

“The defence force into aged care is an extreme measure and, while it’s great news that ADF personnel will be available to residential facilities until the end of September, my priority is making sure aged care facilities have ongoing capacity to meet workforce shortages.”

The ADF has provided clinical and non-clinical support to aged care homes hit by COVID-19 related staffing shortages since February this year. 

As at 22 July, there were over 1,000 active outbreaks of COVID-19 in residential aged care homes across Australia.

The impact of Omicron subvariants is expected to increase over the coming months, intensifying workforce pressures in the sector.

Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles said the ADF support teams would be restructured, with more personnel made available. Up to 250 ADF general duties personnel may be deployed for the aged care support, in addition to clinician-led teams, he said.

“The ADF teams have provided vital relief to a large number of aged care homes affected by serious COVID-19 outbreaks,”  the Minister said.

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