Media event date: 
9 March 2020
Media type: 
Statement
Audience: 
General public

The Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck and the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy today convened the Aged Care COVID-19 Preparedness Forum focused on ensuring the continued delivery of safe, quality care to senior Australians. 
 
The Forum was convened to address priority issues for ensuring appropriate planning and preparedness is in place across the aged care sector. COVID-19 (formerly known as novel coronavirus) presents a challenge for all involved in providing care to vulnerable people, in particular senior Australians in residential and in home aged care.  
 
The Forum included leaders from across the aged care industry, including aged care peaks and providers, the aged care workforce, professional bodies, and consumer organisations together with Commonwealth, state and territory government and primary health representatives.

Outcomes

All parties committed to continuing to work together to ensure the delivery of safe and quality care to senior Australians, and to support the dedicated staff and volunteers of the aged care workforce. 
 
The Communicable Diseases Network of Australian (CDNA) will soon be releasing guidelines for the prevention, control and management of COVID-19 in residential aged care facilities. 
 
The Forum discussed the importance of and need for::

Aged care providers to:

  • Maintain their facility’s Infection Control protocols  
  • Activate their facility’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan, including testing and updating assumptions in those plans
  • Finalise arrangements for seasonal flu vaccinations for residents, staff and volunteers
  • Communicate regularly with aged care consumers and their families

The Government to:

  • Clarify the role of aged care providers, state and territory governments and the Commonwealth in preparing for and responding to COVID-19
  • Ensure the availability of Personal Protective Equipment for aged care services
  • Giving consideration to increased delivery of infection control and procedures training  
  • Ongoing communications including a forum focused on home and community care  
  • Establish communications package directed at aged care workers, with practical advice on how to feel protected and prepared  
  • Strategies to maintain and retain the workforce, and to develop options for an aged care surge workforce capacity which may involve the increasing the hours of visa holders, lifting regulatory arrangements around general practice and the use of graduates and students
  • A broad communications campaign for the community.