Aged care in the time of a pandemic

Aged care in the time of a pandemic | Insurance Business Australia

Aged care in the time of a pandemic

Aged care is an essential service and no pandemic can stop it from being needed – facilities just continue to go about their business, albeit under more difficult circumstances. Someone who knows just how much the sector has been impacted by the virus is Gallagher Bassett senior business development manager Emma Hosking (pictured).

“They’re still delivering the same services as they were before and the demand is still there,” she said, “that’s not impacted. But the environment in which they’re operating has just become a lot more complex for them, and that’s probably the biggest observation.”

Now aged care homes are performing a balancing act of looking after the well-being of not only their residents but also that of the workforce, while at the same time addressing practical difficulties brought about by the outbreak. Responsibilities have increased, for instance when it comes to infection control.

Highlighting a particular difficulty, Hosking explained: “Managing staffing has always been a bit of a challenge for them, but filling rosters has become increasingly challenging for them now. A lot of their casual and part-time staff who often work at multiple sites are unable to move between the sites, and then some of the staff are choosing not to accept shifts. So that creates issues as well.”

Meanwhile, Gallagher Bassett itself has had to make its own set of adjustments. The firm, specialties of which include workers’ compensation claims management and workplace injury management, sees to it that its teams follow all the relevant government restrictions and requirements when dealing with the aged care industry.

“Because we work across all states and territories, and we work with the Commonwealth as well, we’re having to make sure that we’re meeting all the individual legislative or regulatory requirements as well,” Hosking told Insurance Business.

The aged care facilities, additionally, may have particular requirements in place. More specifically, Hosking noted that each individual worker who suffers an injury or illness is being impacted by the pandemic differently and that Gallagher Bassett also has to accommodate that.

When looking at recovery and return to work, the company believes in the importance of adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, in that Gallagher Bassett engages with all the claim stakeholders including the employer and the treating health professionals, and ensuring that the necessary support continues to be provided amid the restricted environment.

As for the separate area of injury management, in which Gallagher Bassett acts for the employers, Hosking pointed to the need to align the approach with the culture of the aged care sector.

She said: “In the aged care industry, where the workforce is really passionate and committed to the care of their residents and their families, we know that they’re expecting the same from their employer. So we need to make sure that we convey that in our approach.”

Meanwhile Hosking stressed that, despite the crisis that is currently consuming us, aged care employees shouldn’t lose sight of their other safety practices, especially since underlying injury management risks and issues continue to exist.

“We know that there are additional responsibilities and they’re diverting attention, and resources, understandably,” she stated, “but it’s actually becoming increasingly important that the holistic injury management practices are strengthened so they can build that ongoing workforce resiliency, more generally.”