Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 Update – 14 November 2022

Read the latest update to the aged care sector on new COVID-19 information.

Subscriber announcement
Health sector

Webinar – aged care COVID-19 update

The next webinar will be held on: Monday 21 November 2022, 3pm - 4pm (AEDT).

In this session you will hear key messages on being ready for the emerging wave of COVID-19 including on outbreak preparedness, testing and antiviral pathways as well as a refresh on infection prevention and control (IPC) practices in the aged care sector.

As we see an increase in outbreaks, a reminder that a range of Australian Government supports remain in place, including access to personal protective equipment (PPE) through the My Aged Care Provider Portal, additional surge workforce where needed, and onsite PCR testing (in addition to weekly delivery of rapid antigen test kits).

Please register to attend.

This session will also include a moderated Q&A session with Departmental officials, and we encourage you to submit questions in advance through the registration link.


Visiting friends and loved ones this holiday season

At our last COVID-19 webinar, guest speakers touched on the importance of social engagement and close relationships for the health and wellbeing of older Australians, especially over the Christmas and holiday period.

Providers should remain vigilant while also balancing the risk with the desire for residents to connect with family or friends. Taking a proportionate response to visitation should include IPC measures such as screening visitors upon entry, wearing masks and staying up to date with vaccinations. It is appropriate for you to ask visitors to wear masks when visiting residents, particularly when in shared or common areas. It is also appropriate for you to ask visitors to stay home if they are unwell.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has launched new interactive online learning modules to support families and friends of aged care residents to continue to provide care and companionship as a ‘partner in care’. These updated resources are available to encourage and help aged care providers to establish partnerships in care programs at their services.

A partner in care may help with a range of activities, even during periods of an infectious disease outbreak. This could include participation in exercise, assistance with meals, leisure activities, companionship, conversation and social engagement or support for someone who is nearing the end of their life.

The Commission’s resources build on the relaxation of public health advice about visitation access for aged care residents, along with the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes During COVID-19.

Visitors are even more important for residents and home care recipients that have little contact with family or friends, feel isolated from their culture and heritage or have mobility issues. We know that allowing visitors helps develop and maintain social connections, lessens the feeling of being isolated and provides friendship and companionship to older people.

The Community Visitors Scheme is a great program that supports visitors for residential aged care and home care recipients.

We encourage providers to exercise judgement, not to take unnecessary risks and to be active in assisting the resident or care recipient in engaging with normal activities.

Reminder: Reporting of aged care residents and aged care staff influenza vaccinations in 2022

Aged care services are reminded to complete the annual influenza vaccination reporting through the online form. This report should provide advice on the number of residents and aged care staff who received an influenza vaccination in 2022.

Who needs to report?

  • Residential Aged Care Service – residents and staff
  • Multipurpose Services – residents and staff
  • Transition Care Program services delivered in a residential age care setting – residents and staff
  • Short Term Restorative Care services delivered in residential aged care settings – residents and staff
  • Home Care Package services – staff only.

The annual reporting for 2022 is required on 31 October 2022 and will be collected via the online form until 30 November 2022.

If a service fails to meet their reporting obligations, they will be included in a non‑reporters list provided to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission). The Commission will then consider a range of escalating regulatory actions. The non-reporters list will not be provided to the Commission until the end of November 2022, to make sure providers have adequate time to report.

Recording available - Webinar: High risk weather season preparedness briefing

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in partnership with the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, hosted a briefing on the seasonal outlook, risks, and preparedness relevant to residential aged care homes and flexible aged care services on Friday 28 October 2022.

This briefing presented advice on the risks and preparedness for the high-risk weather season, including:

  • Seasonal weather outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology
  • Updates from the National Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and Aged Care and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
  • Advice on how the aged care sector can assist and connect with the Australian Government during the high-risk weather season
  • A short crisis scenario run-through and discussion.

A recording of the high risk weather preparedness webinar is now available and you can also view the slide show from the event.

State and Territory public health advice

All aged care providers are encouraged to remain up-to-date with any changes to the public health orders and advice in their regions, including those about requirements for visitors and staff.

Your state or territory has the latest information on the COVID-19 isolation requirements in your region, which are also provided in the links below: