Due to the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it is having on Australia, the Federal Government has introduced a new opportunity, available to all permanent aged care residents, which they have referred to as ‘Emergency Leave’.
The flood crisis in QLD and NSW has also been deemed an emergency. This situation has been included as an opportunity for Emergency Leave for any permanent aged care residents that would like to temporarily relocate to stay with family during the current floods and in the clean-up period afterwards.
The provision for Emergency Leave is available from 1st April 2020 to 30th June 2023 and can be taken at any time and for any length, between these dates. This will allow residents to temporarily relocate to be with family or friends during times of lockdown, without using up their Social Leave entitlements (currently 52 days per financial year).
In addition to Emergency Leave availability, the Government has also introduced a national model of emergency support for those taking up Emergency Leave to move out of Residential Aged Care due to COVID-19.
So, what exactly is Emergency Leave?
The Federal Government has determined that the current COVID-19 pandemic and flood emergency in NSW and QLD both qualify as emergency situations. Therefore, any permanent aged care resident that feels that they would prefer staying with family, friends or back at home during these current emergencies, can choose to leave their aged care home temporarily and return to the community.
It is entirely voluntary and a decision made between the resident and their family. The resident’s place at the aged care home will remain secure until they are ready to return.
Emergency Leave is only available until the 30th June 2023 at which time the resident will need to:
- return to their aged care home; or
- begin to use their Social Leave entitlements; or
- agree to discharge from the aged care home.
What do I need to do?
It is important to discuss your intention to take Emergency Leave with your Client Services Manager. Your Clinical Manager will outline what support will be required during your period away from the aged care home and work with you, your family and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP). A suitable care plan will be developed, a start and end date will be discussed as well as a plan to transition back into the home at the conclusion of Emergency Leave.
Whilst you are out of the aged care home, it is the full responsibility of your family to ensure care needs are met, a safe living environment is in place, equipment is available and 24/7 assistance is on-hand. Should these arrangements not be available, serious consideration should be given to leaving the aged care home where all of these services can be provided.
What about the fees payable to my Aged Care home?
During the period of Emergency Leave, residents must continue to pay:
- Basic Daily Fee (Standard Resident Contribution)
- Means Tested Fees (if applicable)
- Daily Accommodation Payments (if applicable)
If residents have contributed their Accommodation Payment in full as a lump sum Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) or Refundable Accommodation Contribution (RAC), these amounts will continue to be retained by the aged care home during the period of Emergency Leave.
Your fees will not change during this period and there are no additional fees applicable to retain your place within the home.
These arrangements are the same for Social Leave entitlements.
What support is available if I take Emergency Leave?
A national model of emergency support is available through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) for those choosing to take Emergency Leave. This support is available for up to eight (8) weeks only.
Support is available on two levels:
- Tier 1 support is available for residents temporarily relocating from a home that is impacted by COVID-19. This support is in the form of personal care and nursing services and is equivalent to a Level 4 Home Care Package. There is no charge for Tier 1 support. Arrangements can be made by contacting the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 700 600. Contact also needs to be made to My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to obtain additional Tier 2 support.
- Tier 2 support is available for people who decide to return to family, friends or the community from the aged care home on a temporary basis. This level of support can be in the form of meals, transport, social support, allied health or lower-level nursing services and personal care. This is arranged through My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 and they will provide information and access to these services. Tier 2 services may require a client contribution fee if the resident is deemed to be able to afford such a fee.
For more information or to discuss the possibility of Emergency Leave, please contact your Client Services Manager.
Written by Martin Jones – General Manager Client Services.