COVID-19 Updates - SACWIC, OPAN, PPE and ACT Update
A reminder on single site employment arrangements in Greater Melbourne
In line with the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s declaration of Greater Melbourne as a hotspot, workers at residential aged care facilities are reminded they should limit their work to a single facility during the initial high-risk two week period from 27 May to 10 June 2021. This is another important measure in limiting the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between facilities to protect workers and residents.
Workers are encouraged to speak with their employer and look to work all shifts during this period with the residential aged care provider that can offer the most hours. To the greatest extent possible, the employer should seek to match any hours no longer being worked with a secondary employer to ensure the worker is not financially disadvantaged. It is important workers also retain the security of any secondary employment. Where these arrangements result in additional workforce expenses, providers are able to seek reimbursement from the Australian Government through the Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) Grant.
In line with the National COVID-19 Aged Care Plan, residential aged care providers should also maintain a worker register that records which of their employees work across multiple settings or lives with someone who does. Understanding this information is critical for contact tracing purposes.
Further support for workers and employers is available through the Guiding Principles Support Hub website or hotline on 1800 491 793.
The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is an independent, free service to support older people and their family members during COVID-19. Families can call OPAN on 1800 700 600 if they would like to talk with someone about the COVID-19 situation and its impact, or if worried about a loved one and need to talk to someone. Elder Rights Advocacy (ERA) is the Victorian OPAN member who will be providing direct individual support to older people and their families and can be contacted through 1800 700 600.
Advice to providers in the ACT
Please find attached updated advice from the ACT Chief Health Officer for aged care services dated 28 May 2020.
Greater Metropolitan Melbourne remain as a geographical area of risk in Australia. Additional information has been added to the alert, to clarify the impact of stay-at-home requirements on high risk settings. Please read the updated CHO alert carefully for new information about stay-at-home requirements.
- Current geographical areas of risk for COVID-19 transmission in Australia are (see full list of affected LGAs):
- Greater Melbourne LGAs
- City of Greater Bendigo
- Anyone who is in quarantine cannot enter an aged-care facility. This includes:
- People who have been overseas
- People who are close contacts of a confirmed case. This may include people who attended specific venues on the same date/time as a confirmed case.
- Anyone who has been in a geographical area of risk (see above) should not visit or work in high-risk settings, including residential aged care facilities, for 14 days since leaving these areas.
- Anyone who is under a stay-at-home requirement should not visit or work in a high-risk setting unless it is for an approved essential purpose.
- If someone is excluded from visiting or working in a high-risk setting, they can only visit or work under the following conditions:
- If they are in quarantine under a Public Health Direction, they can only attend if they have an approved exemption from ACT Health. They will need to apply for an exemption from ACT Health by emailing COVID.Exemptions@act.gov.au.
- If they have been in a geographical area of risk, they can only visit for compassionate reasons or attend work if they are deemed essential. This should be considered by the facility, following a risk assessment.
- If they are subject to a stay-at-home requirement, but have not been in a geographical area or risk and are not required to quarantine, they can visit or work for an approved essential purpose. High-risk settings should consider conducting their own risk assessments prior to any individuals subject to a stay-at-home requirement entering the high-risk setting.
The COVID-19 situation can change rapidly and as such, advice for high-risk settings is subject to change regularly. ACT Health will continue to keep you updated through these Chief Health Officer alerts. A geographical area of risk is generally kept in place for 14 days after the last episode of community exposure.
This information will also available on the ACT Health website.
State and territory aged care COVID-19 information
As the COVID-19 situation can change rapidly, aged care providers are reminded to stay up to date on visitor restrictions, PPE requirements and other measures relating to COVID-19 in aged care, from their relevant state or territory website below:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
Aged care providers are asked to ensure they have a sufficient supply of PPE, to use their own supply of PPE first and to request extra supply as and when needed. If you urgently need PPE and cannot source it, please submit an online application. The application will need to be completed for your request to be considered. The Commonwealth is prioritising requests for PPE from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need.
Further information and advice
Please visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for information and resources to assist in preparing and managing a COVID-19 outbreak, including what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak in a residential aged care facility.