“It’s clear some senior Australians are anxious about the risks of visits from providers. Of course, it’s their choice to receive or not receive care – but we remain determined to ensure those who need support are still receiving it.”
The Morrison government is working with a number of consumer organisations – including the Older Persons Advocacy Network – to provide the additional support and ensure it could register vulnerable Australians.
Older Persons Advocacy Network chief executive officer Craig Gear said he was in contact with providers to ensure services could continue and to educate senior Australians and aged care workers about safe care.
He said many older Australians had misinterpreted the message of social distancing with isolation and had potentially shut themselves off from care and support networks.
“We are working with the industry to make sure people can be reassured that they can have home meal delivery and support safely, but also if people make the decision not to that we know where they are and how they are,” Mr Gear said.
OPAN will be able to receive referrals from home care and Commonwealth Home Support providers where the client or their family are reducing or cancelling services due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Senator Colbeck said referrals could also be made for people needing extra support as a result of the restrictions.
“The aged care provider has a responsibility to notify the care recipient or family of the referral to OPAN and that they will receive a call-back,” Senator Colbeck said.
“The welfare of people in care is our absolute priority and I’m determined to ensure they can continue to access the services they need.”
The government last week announced $50 million to fund 3.4 million meals for 41,000 people for six weeks – the equivalent of two meals a day – through meal delivery services such as Meals on Wheels.
The funding will prioritise home delivery for senior Australians registered with My Aged Care, ensuring direct access to grocery suppliers via online and phone ordering.
It is also working with supermarkets and commercial providers that had been supporting airlines and the entertainment industry and now have spare capacity to support Meals on Wheels services.
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Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra