COVID-19 vaccines: What you need to know
01/02/2021 - In a bid to protect Australians and stop the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Government is planning to invest an extra $1.9 billion into the vaccine rollout, beginning in late February, to provide free vaccinations to all Australians and promote confidence in the new vaccines.
At the National Press Club on Monday, 1 February, Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained what will be occurring with the vaccination process and the importance of as many Australians as possible receiving the vaccine.
"We need to prioritise the most vulnerable and those most likely to experience the disease, as well as frontline workers," says PM Morrison.
Government commits further funding to aged care
31/08/2020 - The Federal Government has just announced a $563.3 million boost to the aged care sector's response to COVID-19, following ongoing criticism over management of the sector that cares for Australia's most vulnerable.
A lot of heat has been directed towards Minister for Aged Care, Senator Richard Colbeck, and the rest of Government over how they have supported and funded the response in the aged care sector.
This new funding boost takes the Government spend on aged care for senior Australians to over $1.5 billion since the beginning of the pandemic.
Senate Committee critical of Government response to COVID-19 in aged care
24/08/2020 - A COVID-19 Senate Select Committee was held on 21 August, to receive evidence from aged care officials about the Government response to the coronavirus in aged care, leaving a few committee members concerned that the whole sector has been mismanaged.
The Select Committee was established in April by the Senate to inquire into how the Government has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The final report is to be released by 30 June, 2022.
Chair of the Committee, Senator Katy Gallagher, led the charge of the meeting, specifically questioning Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Senator Richard Colbeck, over who holds responsibility for the sector and its "failings".
ROYAL COMMISSION: Aged care wasn't prepared for COVID
14/08/2020 - The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety held hearings, running from 10-12 August, covering the impact of COVID-19 on the aged care sector and how the Australian Government and the industry responded to the pandemic.
Opening for the hearings, Senior Counsel Assisting, Peter Rozen QC, expressed that recent events had led to Australia having the highest rates in the world of residential aged care deaths as a proportion of deaths from COVID-19.
He added that COVID-19 has highlighted all the flaws in the aged care sector that have been found in previous hearings by the Royal Commission.
SA imposes aged care safeguards despite no new COVID cases
13/08/2020 - South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, has announced two new residential aged care facility protocols to come into effect on 27 August, enforcing a one site workforce policy for all staff as well as masks for all personal care workers and health professionals who come within 1.5 metres of a resident.
These two new protocols have been alluded to over the past week, Professor Nicola Spurrier, Chief Public Health Officer of SA Health, even mentioned the potential move in her statement to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety this week.
Premier Marshall says while South Australia has an unblemished record with infections in residential aged care, he doesn't want the State to become complacent, especially with the COVID-19 nursing home outbreaks seen in other States.
Royal Commission will cover COVID-19 response and system failures
31/07/2020 - Royal Commissioner, Tony Pagone QC, has highlighted that the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will be covering the impact of COVID-19 but wants to rein in public expectations around what will actually be investigated during the hearings.
The Commission hearings from 10 to 13 August will be investigating the COVID-19 response by the aged care sector and how effective those responses were.
However, these hearings will not have a focus on the Victorian response to the coronavirus and will be examining the system failures and sector readiness as a whole.
Victorian older Australians urged to be careful
07/07/2020 - Victoria has experienced a resurgence of COVID-19 and the Federal Government is urging older people in Victoria to be vigilant and implement more safety measures to reduce the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus.
While restrictions have eased in most States and Territories, Victoria's second wave of coronavirus is resulting in suburb isolation tactics and community housing lockdowns.
The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced a lockdown of metropolitan Melbourne today due to the rising numbers of active COVID-19 cases, with almost 200 new cases reported since yesterday.
Additional changes in second review of aged care Industry Code
06/07/2020 - A second review of the Industry Code on Visiting Residential Aged Care has resulted in additional changes, incorporating feedback from the general public.
The 13 aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations involved in the creation of the Code, made further revisions including no time limits for close family visitors and residents can leave for small family events or gatherings, among other things.
The first review of the Code on 26 June resulted in no changes as the consumer and provider advocates deemed that they required more feedback from the public before making any changes to the Code.
Global Centre for Modern Ageing launch online COVID-19 portal for older people
27/05/2020 - In a bid to further support older Australians during the COVID-19 crisis, the Global Centre for Modern Ageing (GCMA) has launched an online information portal full of tips and links to staying healthy, connected and active.
Since social distancing and other safety measures are still in play, even though restrictions are easing from State to Territory, the GCMA created the 'Modern Ageing Portal' as an easy access online resource.
The Modern Ageing Portal is trying to cut through the difficult and vague language of restrictions and regulations, and intends to be a "one-stop shop" to find trusted and correct information about the coronavirus.
Taking care of yourself at home with COVID-19 restrictions easing
22/05/2020 - While restrictions are easing around States and Territories in Australia, this doesn't mean the country is out of the clear in terms of COVID-19.
There is a good possibility that Australia could experience a second wave of coronavirus once people start to interact more, similar to countries overseas that eased their restrictions too quickly.
Since self-isolation and social distancing will still be recommended for another few months, older Australians may need to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the long haul and make sure their surrounding environment is safe.
Peak bodies team up with ABC's Dr Norman Swan on COVID-19 video series
20/05/2020 - Dr Norman Swan, physician and ABC journalist and broadcaster, is collaborating with aged care peak body, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), and advocacy group, the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), to create short informative videos to educate and protect older people against COVID-19.
The video series, called 'Your health is in all of our hands - keeping older Australians safe from COVID-19', is hosted by Dr Swan and covers a range of different topics that have become of concern for older Australians.
Emergency leave available for aged care residents
15/05/2020 - The Government adopted new emergency leave legislation amendments this week, which allows for older residents to move out of their aged care during a crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, without being penalised.
This emergency leave mechanism will only be activated and available in crisis situations, like natural disasters or health epidemics.
Older Australians who left aged care from 1 April this year will be eligible for emergency leave, so residents who moved out of their facility earlier in the year because of COVID-19 are not at a disadvantage.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, National Seniors recommend staying vigilant
14/05/2020 - As social rules and guidelines ease between the States and Territories, peak body for older Australians, National Seniors Australia, wants to remind everyone to continue following social distancing suggestions and hygiene rules.
While the threat of coronavirus in Australia has reduced, National Seniors is worried that the public may consider this a green light to go back to their everyday lives when in reality these easing restrictions aim to slowly introduce everyone back into Australian life.
Chief Advocate of National Seniors, Ian Henschke, provided examples from Singapore and Germany where these countries relaxed their restrictions too early and experienced a second wave of COVID-19 spreading through the public.
SA strengthens rapid response teams in nursing homes to combat COVID
13/05/2020 - The South Australian Government has announced the creation of a rapid response team of domiciliary nurses and phlebotomists from SA Pathology, to respond to any COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care and other residential facilities in the State.
However, two weeks ago the Federal Government had already announced a contract for dedicated aged care pathology services with Sonic Healthcare, operating as Clinpath Pathology in SA, with the recent SA Government decision causing friction between the service provider and State Government.
SA Health Minister, Stephen Wade, has not commented on the double up of services but says the additional SA Pathology rapid response team has the ability to test everyone in a facility during an outbreak.
Visitor Access Code for aged care has been finalised
12/05/2020 - The Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 has officially been finalised and was released today after a week of public consultation with consumers and aged care providers.
Thirteen aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations created this nationally consistent code, which aims to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents in aged care without compromising their health when being visited by family and friends.
As a result of the Code, visitors will be able to see their older loved ones in aged care but will need to adhere to their facility infection control procedures to minimise the risk of COVID-19 entering and spreading inside facilities.
80 percent of nurses reported no increase in staffing to prepare for COVID-19
11/05/2020 - Peak body for nurses, midwives and carers, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), released their national Aged Care COVID-19 Survey revealing that 80 percent of participants experienced no increase in care staff to prepare for a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
Nearly 2,000 Registered and Enrolled Nurses, personal care workers and ancillary staff from across the non-profit, for profit and Government aged care providers, participated in the national survey, which was conducted from 15 April to 6 May.
The aim of the survey was to obtain aged care workers' experiences of their aged care facility and how prepared the provider was to deal with the coronavirus, as well as understand what provisions and strategies had been implemented.
Poll finds over half of Australians support aged care visitor bans
08/05/2020 - A poll held by peak body for non-profit aged care providers, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), found 69 percent of respondents support aged care visitor bans to reduce the risk of older people being exposed to COVID-19.
The survey included 1,093 respondents with only 10 percent of survey participants opposing aged care visitor bans.
Poll participants who agreed with aged care visitor bans said this was the case if there were exemptions for compassionate reasons and video calls.
Elder abuse likely on the rise during COVID-19
07/05/2020 - On Wednesday, an Older Person's Advocacy Network (OPAN) webinar about elder abuse highlighted that the abuse of older Australians has likely increased since the start of COVID-19.
The webinar covered what elder abuse is and how stressful situations, like the current coronavirus epidemic, has exposed older people to abuse from family members, friends or carers.
Keeping music alive in aged care during COVID-19
06/05/2020 - Live music can be an important activity for older people to engage and help them connect with others, however, many aged care facilities who previously had visiting music therapists or musicians at the facility may now no longer be able to attend and get the toes tapping of music-loving residents.
But one music therapist in Sydney has been able to keep his music sessions going in an aged care facility during the COVID-19 visitor restrictions by utilising live online video to continue connecting with older residents.
Visitors Access Code open for public consultation
04/05/2020 - The draft Aged Care Visitors Access Code (VAC) is up for public consultation after the Government announced on Friday they would adopt the VAC developed by aged care peak bodies and consumer groups.
This Code intends to solve the dispute between the aged care sector and Government around visitor restrictions to aged care facilities and provide a nationally consistent visitation policy in nursing homes.
While the Government has adopted the draft Code, there hasn't been a lot of information behind what it contains.
Government adopts industry code of conduct and an extra $205 million for aged care
01/05/2020 - Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison announced that the National Cabinet has adopted a code of conduct for visitations in nursing homes, which they developed with the aged care sector, as well as adding an additional $205 million for the sector to cope with COVID-19 costs.
The code has been in development since Monday this week in what Minister for Aged Care and Older Australians, Richard Colbeck, described as the quickest creation of a code he has ever seen.
What you need to know about the COVIDsafe tracing app
01/05/2020 - The Federal Government launched the COVIDsafe application (app) for smartphones this week, which can be downloaded by the general public to track the potential spread of a coronavirus outbreak.
This app has caused a lot of discussion with the general public, ranging from privacy concerns to whether the app actually works.
Many people have pointed out that New Zealand was able to contain the spread of the virus without the use of a contact tracking app.
Is it safe for me to move into aged care during COVID-19?
30/04/2020 - Making the decision to place a loved one in aged care is a difficult one for many families. The current COVID-19 pandemic adds an extra dimension to this.
But even in these times, a crisis can hit resulting in a loss of independence and the urgent need to move into a nursing home.
But amid the news of coronavirus clusters in aged care homes in New South Wales and Victoria it is understandable there is apprehension about a move in the current environment. So is it safe for you to move into an aged care facility during a pandemic?
Federal Government is working on national code of conduct for aged care visitations
29/04/2020 - Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison announced this morning that the Federal Government is working on a national code of conduct with the aged care sector that supports visitations in nursing homes without compromising the safety of residents.
"You will be aware of the strong views the National Cabinet and I have expressed in ensuring that residents in aged care facilities are not shut away and that they do have access to their loved ones, their carers and others that provide support to them," says PM Morrison.
Royal Commission asks for submissions on the impact of COVID-19 in aged care
28/04/2020 - The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has invited the public and aged care organisations to provide submissions around the impact of the coronavirus on the sector.
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the Australian economy and way of life, including the aged care sector, and the Commission wants to understand how the industry has been impacted and is coping with this new stress.
Peak bodies asking for enhanced aged care visitation protections
27/04/2020 - Aged care peak bodies and organisations have come together to petition the Government for nationally consistent guidelines that balances strong infection control with good social, mental health and spiritual wellness support to assist providers during COVID-19.
The peak bodies involved in this Government request are Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Aged Care Guild, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), and UnitingCare Australia.
During a national webinar, nearly 1,000 aged care providers and their representatives endorsed requests for support, which was put to the Minister for Aged Care and Older Australians, Richard Colbeck, and to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Brendan Murphy, who joined the webinar.
Prime Minister delivers an ultimatum to aged care sector
24/04/2020 - In a midday announcement, Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison has threatened the aged care sector to stick to the current visitor restrictions baseline provided by the National Cabinet or face the Commonwealth getting involved.
PM Morrison says if the aged care facilities who are going above and beyond the recommended visitor restrictions do not dial it back to the national baseline, the Commonwealth will require facilities to seek an exemption so they can implement further restrictions.
Senior Australians receive access to free online eSafety courses
24/04/2020 - The Federal Government has invested in free daytime webinar courses for older Australians to improve their online skills during the current pandemic.
The "Be Connected" initiative aims to empower all older Australians in developing their digital skills as they turn to the internet to remain connected with their loved ones and access online services.
New COVID-19 hotline for older Australians launches
23/04/2020 - Older Australians will now be able to call a dedicated COVID-19 hotline to access the critical information they need to stay healthy and safe during the coronavirus epidemic.
This hotline can provide older people, their family and carers with personal support, answer questions and up to date information on the latest guidelines enacted by the Federal Government.
Two weeks inside an aged care facility during an active COVID-19 lockdown
22/04/2020 - There have been a lot of stories from the Department of Health and Federal Government about how the aged care sector has coped with the current coronavirus pandemic and related visitor restrictions, but some affected aged cares haven't had the opportunity to tell real-life accounts of what a COVID-19 outbreak is like.
On 20 March, Moran Engadine Aged Care in Sydney, New South Wales, received the news that a resident at the facility was confirmed with COVID-19, launching the nursing home into a strict two-week lockdown.
Aged care providers urged to refrain from unnecessary isolation rules
21/04/2020 - Today, Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison has strongly reminded aged care providers, and services, to not put in place restrictions that go over and above the recommendations from the National Cabinet.
PM Morrison has stated that the National Cabinet is concerned about the isolation of older people in residential aged care facilities with some nursing homes deciding to go into lockdown even though it hasn't reported an outbreak.
Peak bodies remind aged care services about rights to healthcare and spiritual care
21/04/2020 - Two different peak bodies are highlighting the importance for older people to continue accessing healthcare, whether at home or in aged care facilities, and for spiritual care to continue inside nursing homes during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and Meaningful Ageing Australia, released statements about concerns over older people not receiving basic human rights, like healthcare or spiritual care.
COVID-19 and what you need to know about protective equipment
17/04/2020 - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has become a huge topic in Australia as the country is battling the COVID-19 outbreak. There is a lack of supplies available for health professionals and aged care workers, and the general public has been scrambling to get their hands on any form of masks and PPE.
Many Australians are wondering if they should cover their nose and mouth with a mask to reduce the risk of contracting the virus and the advice whether to mask or not to mask has been conflicting.
Government unveils new strategy to strengthen aged care workforce
16/04/2020 - Over the long weekend, the Federal Government initiated a new strategy to strengthen the aged care workforce and ensure that staffing gaps are adequately addressed over the period of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The new emergency contingency measures will make sure all aged care recipients will continue to receive quality care during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Peak bodies band together for aged care Rescue Package proposal
15/04/2020 - Seven aged care sector peak bodies have joined together to propose a Rescue Package costing over 1.2 billion to the Federal Government, to keep 1.3 million people in its care and receiving services while providing security and safety to 360,000 workers during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Many aged care providers were struggling financially before the coronavirus hit, and the peak bodies say that the current crisis has escalated the situation for nursing homes closer to breaking point.
Welfare checks for elderly who suspend home care services
15/04/2020 - Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, has announced there will be welfare checks conducted on older Australians who decide to defer their home care services during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
If a recipient of home care services decides to suspend their care services at home so they can avoid contracting the coronavirus, the recipient will receive a regular phone call to check up on how they are managing.
Care Army to assist Queensland's seniors
14/04/2020 - The Queensland Government has rallied a "Care Army" of professionals and volunteers to assist Queensland seniors during the current coronavirus epidemic.
This initiative includes a new telephone hotline, an expansion of the Community Recovery Hotline, to provide older Queenslanders with essential services and supports they require.
Why right now is the perfect time to volunteer
09/04/2020 - Volunteering is such an integral part of Australian life and countless organisations, charities and sports clubs rely on some form of volunteering. But you may never realise how important volunteering is until suddenly there is no one available to volunteer.
The coronavirus breakout has put an end to a large number of volunteering opportunities, affecting older Australians both on the volunteering and the receiving end.
Older people avoiding eye appointments risk losing their sight
08/04/2020 - While the coronavirus is yet to reach its peak, it's already becoming clear that the after-effects of the pandemic will take months if not years to be fully known.
One of the concerns highlighted this week is that COVID-19 may result in more older Australians losing their eyesight if they continue to cancel their treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) out of panic due to the coronavirus.
Government boosts seniors meal delivery amid COVID-19 demand increase
06/04/2020 - The Federal Government has provided $59.3 million in funding for organisations that provide prepared meals, food staples and essential daily items to Australia's most vulnerable who are in self-isolation at home.
Meal delivery services, like the Australian Meals On Wheels Association (AMOWA), will receive this funding injection to continue supporting older Australians with meals while they undertake the Government's COVID-19 self-isolating measures.
Nationwide survey to track Australians wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic
03/04/2020 - Australians are encouraged to be involved in an online research survey from the Global Centre for Modern Ageing (GCMA) to help the Centre gauge the effects of the coronavirus epidemic and how people are adapting, to develop new ways to help the elderly cope during difficult times.
The GCMA is undertaking a range of advocacy, market development, partnerships, research and learning developments to improve the lives of older people.
Five easy home exercises for older people
02/04/2020 - Keeping fit and healthy is an important part of ageing well, but it's even more important now as Australia is battling the impact of coronavirus.
Exercise is vital to keep your muscles and joints moving well, especially for older people, and to support your independence for as long as possible but can be tricky when self-isolating at home and a walk to the shops or the local swimming pool is no longer an option.
How do I continue to get healthcare if I am self-isolating?
01/04/2020 - As more and more businesses close and the Government takes action to minimise the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, you may be in self-isolation or worried about going to your doctor's surgery, how are you able to access healthcare while at home?
Luckily, telehealth is being pushed by the Federal Government, making healthcare more accessible and as a way to protect vulnerable Australians from the possibility of contracting the virus.
Unannounced visits to aged care facilities postponed indefinitely
31/03/2020 - The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, responsible for assessing and monitoring the quality of Australian aged care services, has postponed all unannounced visits to aged care facilities in response to the coronavirus crisis.
While the unannounced visits will stop, other site visits will continue for particular circumstances and based on the level of assessed risk by the Commission.
Government suggests further protective measures for older Australians
30/03/2020 - The Federal Government announced further measures to protect older Australians from contracting the coronavirus, COVID-19, including strong advice for people over the age of 70 to self-isolate at home for as long as practicable.
Other people who are recommended to self-isolate include people over 60 years of age and Indigenous Australians over the age of 50 with health conditions or comorbidities.
How home care will change while looking after a loved one from a distance
27/03/2020 - The coronavirus will change how home care services are delivered at home to recipients, and families will need to switch up how they take care of their older loved ones for the next few months until COVID-19 is under control.
This could mean adapting the care you provide to a client or family member and the utilisation of further health measures to keep safe and stop the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 aged care restrictions and tips for supporting older residents in isolation
26/03/2020 - Federal Government has put in place visitation restrictions into aged care facilities to protect older Australians with the clause that this could develop into facility lockdowns if the coronavirus, or COVID-19, escalates further.
Being wary of scams and sharing your personal information
25/03/2020 - During this digital age, it’s hard to keep your information and money safe as an older person when new technology and how it works can be quite confusing.
This is doubled by the fact more and more scammers are utilising the current COVID-19 crisis to target people through phone calls and email phishing scams.
Keeping yourself healthy and safe during COVID-19
24/03/2020 - Staying safe and keeping healthy during the outbreak of COVID-19 will help protect yourself and others.
Making changes to our daily lives in terms of hygiene and social behaviours can help slow down the spread of the virus.
Message from the CEO: An important update about COVID-19
24/03/2020 - "As a community we're in uncharted waters as we face the challenges of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
"I wanted to provide you with an update as to what DPS is doing as a company in these uncertain times. Our number one priority is to keep consumers and our team members safe. We are also doing everything we can to support our clients during this time..."
Additional funds pumped into aged care amid COVID-19 developments
20/03/2020 - The Federal Government has just announced an additional $444.6 million in funding for the aged care sector to support staff retention in residential aged care and home care, as well as help with the viability of aged care facilities as the sector continues to provide care for the nation's elderly during the COVID-19 crisis.
How to self-isolate and tips to not get bored indoors
20/03/2020 - According to health experts most of us will get the virus at some stage so it can be expected that at some point over the next few months you may have to self-isolate at home.
The Federal Government has called for people to self-isolate at home if they have just returned from overseas or have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed with coronavirus or COVID-19.
Prime Minister announces further restrictions to aged care
18/03/2020 - Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a special announcement on 18 March announcing further restrictions on aged care to combat the threat of coronavirus, or COVID-19, on Australia's most vulnerable.
Providers to limit visitations to protect elderly from COVID-19
16/03/2020 - The Federal Government has announced it's encouraging aged care providers to limit the number of visitations to their facility from 16 March under new national guidelines to prevent and control the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19.