Advice for CHSP Social Support Group Providers

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are new restrictions on non-essential gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups. From 23 March 2020, all non-essential gatherings are suspended for four weeks.

If you provide Social Support Groups and group activities, you should suspend them for four weeks. You can continue to support clients by re-directing their funds to other non-face-to-face activities and support services. Please communicate any change to clients and their carers and families as soon as possible.

Flexibility provisions

CHSP service providers now have complete flexibility to re-allocate up to 100 per cent of their funding between their funded service types in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Providers may only use flexibility provisions to transfer funding between already funded services.

This does not extend to transferring funds between aged care planning regions (ACPRs). Requests to transfer funds between regions in exceptional circumstances must be approved by the Department.

CHSP service providers are encouraged to use the flexibility provisions to direct resources towards delivering critical services, such as ensuring clients have access to meals and groceries, undertaking welfare checks, and undertaking phone/video call social interactions with their clients.

Providers are encouraged to use their workforce creatively to respond to increasing demand for critical services, including using workforce that is underutilised (e.g. staff involved in group social support) towards other funded services (e.g. delivery of meals, phone based social connections), wherever possible.

Providers that have underutilised staff, and are not funded for services that are experiencing high and unmet demand, should seek to collaborate with other providers in their area – to potentially offer short-term staffing assistance, wherever possible.

It is important that staff be retained during this period. The Department will take into consideration the current circumstances when reviewing acquittals data for 2019-20 and 2020-21. Where funded outputs are not delivered, but funding is redeployed to other services or to actions that promote the retention of staff, these will be considered to be mitigating circumstances.

Other Commonwealth support available

The Government announced $92.2 million of additional support for home care and CHSP providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. $70.2 million is for unsolicited proposals by CHSP providers ($40 million in 2019-20 and $30.2 million in 2020-21).

Where there is significant impact on the ability of CHSP providers to continue delivering services, or where there are time-limited demand pressures to support additional clients due to COVID-19, providers may submit an unsolicited proposal for additional grant funding. You must first use the expanded flexibility provisions before submitting an unsolicited proposal. To request an application form, email CHSPprogram@health.gov.au or your Funding Arrangement Manager.

The Department will continue to review these arrangements over the coming weeks and will provide further guidance to providers so that they can sustain their important contributions in supporting older Australians in the current environment.

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