Waste management in residential aged care facilities (RACFs)
For RACFs managing an outbreak, advice on managing waste is available in the Outbreak management planning in aged care, produced by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and in the ICEG guidance on infection prevention and control for residential care facilities.
Aged care providers are responsible for managing their waste safely under the Aged Care Quality Standards - requirement 3(3)(g) and requirement 5(3)(b).
Providers need to make sure that their waste disposal is in line with their state or territory requirements. Please select the relevant state or territory for guidance:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia.
Funding for managing waste is available through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant, which reimburses providers for additional eligible costs incurred in managing the direct impact of COVID‑19.
Approved RACFs, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) and Home Care Package providers are eligible to apply if they have:
- one or more residents, clients or staff members who have had a COVID-19 test and been required to isolate as result (regardless of whether the result is positive or negative)
- incurred eligible expenses during that period of isolation (from the date of an associated COVID-19 test until the period of isolation ends) between 28 May 2021 and 30 June 2022.
For more information please see the Grant Opportunity Guidelines (Grant Opportunity – GO4863), including frequently asked questions available on GrantConnect.
Ventilation in RACFs
Aged care providers are encouraged to consider ventilation as part of their outbreak planning and response.
This should be part of the risk assessment to manage hazards in the facility, including those for workers in line with state based workplace safety requirements.
The following resources provide useful information:
- APPHC statement - Role of ventilation in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19
- Safe Work Australia - Improving ventilation in indoor workplaces
- Department of Health - Minimising the risk of infectious respiratory disease transmission in the context of COVID-19: the hierarchy of controls - An outline of strategies and principles to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Updated July 2021.
Funding to improve air quality and ventilation may be available through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant, which reimburses providers for additional eligible costs incurred in managing the direct impacts of COVID‑19.
Planning PPE usage in RACFs
The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Burn Rate Calculator is a spreadsheet-based model, that can help facilities plan and optimize the use of PPE in response to COVID-19.
The Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers in the context of COVID-19 and appendix 9 and 10 of the CDNA guidelines provide helpful diagrams of what PPE is required in different settings.
Some basic modelling has also been done by the Department, based on average interactions in RACFs for a 14 day period:
- P2 N95 - residents x 10 interactions a day x 14 days
- Surgical masks – residents x 5 interactions a day x 14 days
- Gloves – Residents x 15 interactions a day x 14 days x 2 (pairs). These are swapped with every interaction, size wise the general rule is 60% medium, 15% small, 15% large, 10% extra large
- Gowns – residents x 15 interactions a day x 14 days
- Face shields – residents x 2 (shifts could be 3 also) a day x 14 days – we are assuming 3 shifts as this is most typical pattern for RACFs
- Goggles - residents x 2 (shifts could be 3 also) x 14 days - again assuming 3 shifts as is the most typical pattern for RACFs
RACFs are encouraged to use the calculator, as a useful tool in the management of PPE in response to COVID-19.
Aged Care Emergency and Crisis Management Training Program 2021 - EXTENDED UNTIL 30 JUNE 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight vulnerabilities in aged care crisis management in particular, critical decision making.
As such, availability of the online training modules delivered as part of the Aged Care Emergency and Crisis Management Training Program 2021, has been extended until 30 June 2022.
Importantly, the training retains particular relevance for the aged care sector in the contexts of both the current high-risk weather season and the ongoing Omicron outbreak surges.
Targeted at aged care provider senior leaders, it can help equip you with the knowledge, tools and confidence to build or strengthen your organisation’s emergency and crisis management capability and assist to better ensure continued delivery of safe and quality care in challenging situations.
The self-paced online modules are available now and are completely free for participants, with over 1110 registrations to date - register here.
The training continues to be delivered by First 5 Minutes and RiskLogic, supported with funding from the Department.
SA Health - Updated Direction
The Office of Ageing Well, South Australia, has issued the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 46) (COVID-19) Direction 2022 and the Emergency Management (In-home and Community Aged Care and Disability Support Workers Vaccination No 4) (COVID-19) Direction 2022 replacing the previous directions.
The changes include:
- people who engage in work or perform duties in these settings need to (within the prescribed time), have a COVID-19 booster shot (third dose), or have evidence of a booking to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.
- people who engage in work or perform duties in these settings must provide the operator of the setting with proof of their vaccination status and evidence of the applicable prescribed time for receiving a booster dose upon request.
- prescribed time means:
- a person who has been infected with COVID-19, within 4 months of their first positive COVID-19 test, or within 4 months of their second dose of a TGA approved or recognised COVID-19 vaccine, whichever is later;
- any other person, within 4 months of their second dose of a TGA approved or recognised COVID-19.
- other existing requirements remain.
Factsheets are currently being updated and will be available on the SA Health website shortly.
Further information about COVID-19 and Aged Care is available on the SA Health website