Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 update for WA Aged care providers – 22 February 2022

In this issue, Webinar for WA aged care providers, New directions to visitors to Aged care facilities (WA), Departmental reporting in residential aged care, COVID-19 testing, Australian Defence Force support, Personal Protective Equipment and Rapid Antigen Test and First 24 hours checklist.

Date published:
Type:
Subscriber announcement
Audience:
Health sector

Webinar – Aged Care COVID-19 for WA aged care providers – 24 February 2022

The Australian Government Department of Health, together with WA Health, are hosting the second in a series of free COVID-19 webinars for WA aged care providers on managing COVID-19 in their aged care service.

The webinar will include presenters from the Department of Health, WA State Health Incident Coordination Centre, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Australian Defence Force, Clinipath Pathology and Advocare.

The FREE webinar will be held Thursday, 24 February 2022 at 2pm-3:15pm AWST.

Register to attend.

You can also view the previous webinar held on 2 February 2022, Aged Care Update for WA Providers.

New Directions to Visitors to Aged Care Facilities- WA

The Western Australian Government have released new Directions for:

Please ensure these Directions are understood for your staff and all current processes are compliant with these requirements.

Departmental reporting of COVID-19 in residential aged care

As previously announced, the department is streamlining how approved providers of residential aged care services report cases of COVID-19 to the Commonwealth.

Currently, providers are to notify the Department of a COVID-19 outbreak or exposure by emailing agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au. This will move to reporting COVID-19 cases or exposure through the COVID-19 Support Portal from Monday, 28 February 2022. This will be in addition to notifying the WA Public Health team (currently via NCOVContact@health.wa.gov.au).

There is no need for you to notify the department by phone or by calling the WA emergency aged care contact number. Please remove this step from your Outbreak Response Plans.

The department is hosting a free webinar on 23 February 2022 to step through the new reporting process, via My Aged Care.

COVID 19 Testing – Clinipath Pathology

Clinipath Pathology have been contracted by the Commonwealth Department of Health to provide surge PCR testing services for confirmed outbreak sites within residential aged care services in Western Australia.

As part of your COVID 19 outbreak planning, Clinipath has provided the following guidance:

  • Pre-fill all of your RACF Line Listing forms, so only minor changes are required if an outbreak occurs. This will reduce any delays in testing being booked. Also ensure key staff have access to the Sonic DX Portal.
  • Clinipath staff will be RAT screened prior to deployment and all health screens will be scanned through to the facility prior to arrival of the team.
  • Providers should ensure Clinipath have a direct line to the most appropriate, on site RACF testing lead to discuss the collection arrangements. This RACF testing lead should make sure the Clinipath team know where to report, the layout of the facility (including zones), and the most appropriate direction to work through testing.
  • The RACF testing lead should assign an escort to assist the Clinipath team throughout the visit, for example to direct staff to the testing area in a timely manner and to ensure any issues are resolved quickly.
  • For resident testing, the provider needs to ensure there is appropriate support to assist Clinipath with identifying residents and ensuring any resident care is provided during the swabbing process. Where the collection staff believe the collection cannot be undertaken safely they will advise the facility representative and record why the collection did not proceed.
  • For staff testing, providers should have areas identified for staff collections and this information be shared with Clinipath early.
  • The RACF testing lead should communicate clearly to their staff about who is to be tested and when, to avoid large groups of staff congregating or presenting unexpectedly.
  • The RACF testing lead should ensure other options for testing are provided to those staff who cannot be on site at the time of the collection.
  • The RACF testing lead should confirm with Clinipath Team Leader when all collections have been completed. This will be recorded and the team will depart.

Australian Defence Force support

The Australian Defence Force has personnel in all jurisdictions to support residential aged care facilities impacted by COVID-19. WA services will be offered the support of the ADF if your service experiences a COVID 19 outbreak or exposure.

You should start thinking about how the ADF could support your service during an outbreak now, including how you will induct them to site and what role they might play to support your outbreak response. Please refer to the attached factsheet for more information.

Personal Protective Equipment and Rapid Antigen Tests

  • It is critical that residential aged care facilities carefully monitor their PPE supplies, take proactive steps to bolster supplies to make sure you have sufficient PPE on hand.
  • Providers should contact their usual suppliers in the first instance, rather than make a request through the National Medical Stockpile (NMS), if the need for PPE supplies is not urgent or critical.
  • The National Medical Stockpile (NMS) is prioritising orders for the distribution of PPE to residential aged care facilities that currently have a COVID-19 outbreak or exposure.
  • All residential care facilities have been provided with a forward deployment of rapid antigen test (RAT) kits. Providers can use RATS to undertake screening of residents, visitors and staff. This should be in line with jurisdictional public health advice. The CDNA national guidelines for the prevention, control and public health management of COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care facilities in Australia provides RACFs with reference guidelines including how RAT screening can be used as part of infection prevention and control measures. Outbreak sites will continue to receive weekly RAT supplies form the NMS; and all other sites will receive fortnightly RAT supplies for surveillance activity.
  • Through the Commonwealth COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863), providers are also supported with the additional eligible costs of managing the direct impact of COVID-19. Approved residential aged care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP), and Home Care Package providers can apply if they have one or more COVID-19 infected or isolated resident, client or staff member who has been tested for COVID-19 and had to isolate as result (regardless of a positive or negative result). The grant reimburses providers for additional eligible costs including the purchase of additional PPE and RATs.

First 24 hours checklist

The checklist includes updated information from the previous First 24 Hours facts heet, aligning with the updated CDNA Guidelines and simplified into an easy to use and practical checklist format.

The changes assist providers and their staff to quickly identify critical steps to manage a COVID-19 positive case or outbreak during the first 24 hours.