Aged-care bonus welcomed but more needs to be done
The federal government will provide $210 million to support the aged-care workforce to continue to care for older Australians during the pandemic.
A bonus of up to $800 will be paid to workers providing care and support in government-subsidised home care and to residential aged-care workers. It will be paid in two instalments, with workers employed on 28 February 2022 to receive a bonus payment of up to $400 and another instalment of up to $400 to be made to workers employed on 28 April 2022.
The payments will be for clinical care workers and expanded to all those providing direct care, food or cleaning services in government-subsidised residential care. Aged-care providers will apply for the payments and will pass on the assessment to employees.
Minister for Health and Aged Greg Hunt said, “These payments will also be an extra bonus for those who recently retired but have responded to the request to return to work during the recent workforce shortages.”
Aged-care workers are the backbone of the care and services provided to older Australians, which is why we continue to invest in growing and upskilling the workforce, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck said.
“The payments will provide additional encouragement to continue working through the pandemic and will help to attract additional workers into aged care,” Colbeck said.
The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) welcomed the announcement but said the bonus must be tax-free and accompanied by greater investment in education and training for aged-care nurses.
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s recognition of the contribution aged care workers make to protecting and caring for our nation’s elderly,” ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.
“However, it is nowhere near enough and as I wrote in a letter to the NSW Premier last week, pandemic bonuses are needed for nurses in NSW and across the country, and it must be a tax-free gift.
“Our older Australians in residential facilities have complex health conditions and comorbidities which can only be managed by 24-hour care from highly trained nursing professionals. However, more needs to be done to ensure nurses have the money and time to undertake the education and training required to support their leadership and ongoing clinical care skills.”