This message has been reissued to include the updated summary of enhanced restrictions and fact sheet which specifies the inclusion of specific student placements as essential workers (please see below).
New restrictions are in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the movement of people around Victoria including a five day lockdown.
There are enhanced restrictions in place to protect people receiving aged care services.
Residential Aged Care
Effective immediately visitors are not allowed to enter a residential aged care facility during this time period except in the circumstances listed in the Circuit Breaker Lockdown Residential Aged Care Restrictions fact sheet. Currently, there is a requirement that all staff (clinical and non-clinical) wear surgical masks. These new restrictions also require all staff to wear eye protection (face shields preferred) at all times.
Please see the summary of enhanced restrictions below and refer to the fact sheet for further detail.
The following restrictions are in place from 11:59pm 12 February 2021 until 11:59pm 17 February 2021 across all of Victoria:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – surgical masks and eye protection (face-shields preferred) are required for all staff and workers during the enhanced restriction period. See Enhanced PPE requirements (in the fact sheet).
- Visitor restrictions: Visitation is restricted with exceptions to these restrictions consistent with previous Stage 4 lockdown levels (see Enhanced visitor restrictions).
- Non-essential workers cannot operate within RACFs, this includes hairdressers.
- Non-essential contractors are restricted from entering a RACF.
- Leaving the facility – residents must not leave the RACF unless they are leaving for one of the exception reasons e.g. exercise, compassionate grounds and medical appointments (see Enhanced Restrictions for residents leaving RACFs).
- Daily screening and declarations – reference to the exposure sites is necessary to ensure any one that should be isolating or quarantining is captured (see Declarations for staff and visitors).
- The Chief Health Officer has advised that the essential workers list has been updated, and the following student clinical placements in health services and residential aged care or telehealth can recommence from Sunday 14 February 2021:
- allied health
- nursing and midwifery
- Remaining student placements will be advised by Wednesday 17 February 2021.
- Resident transfers to and from hospital, see Enhanced requirements for transfers to and from RACFs and hospital.
Aged care workers providing services in the community – Home Care Packages (HCP) and Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP)
It is critical that we keep delivering services to support those most in need. Care services for people with particular needs because of homelessness, age, infirmity, disability, illness or a chronic health condition are considered essential services and should continue.
- All workers are to wear surgical masks AND eye protection (face-shields preferred, goggles where face-shields are not practical) at all times. Tier 3 PPE (including N95 masks) is required for staff when they are providing care to those who are symptomatic, suspected or confirmed to have COVID.
- You may travel outside the 5km radius for work, including to visit or support clients, if this cannot be done remotely.
- Essential workers, including health and aged care workers, are not required to get permits but must carry a form of employee identification to show the need to travel and be prepared to provide details of their place of employment, should this be required.
- Where you are able you should return to phone or telehealth service delivery during this period.
- Where it is necessary to conduct face to face care, consider rescheduling the appointment to after this period.
- If there is an exceptional circumstance which has led to an urgent need for face to face care, you should apply appropriate risk mitigation strategies with appropriate use of required PPE, hand and respiratory hygiene and social distancing measures.
People (including staff and visitors) should be prohibited from entering residential aged care facilities and should not provide HCP and CHSP services where the person has:
- worked in or volunteered at a hotel quarantine site and/or other port of entry in the last
- been released from hotel quarantine in the last 14 days
- has any COVID-19 symptoms
- have coronavirus (COVID-19) and are currently required to isolate
- have been in contact with someone with coronavirus (COVID-19) within the last 14 days and are currently required to quarantine
- have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) due to symptoms and not yet received a result
- have arrived in Australia from overseas in the last 14 days.
In order to ensure excluded persons are prevented from entering a RACF, a screening and declaration process is required (see fact sheet).
If you have symptoms, please get tested. Regularly visit the exposure sites page for up to date information about locations and advice about self-isolation and testing. For testing locations and list of exposure sites go to:
- Current exposure sites
- Where to get tested
- Continue to source the latest updated information at the department’s website.
Limiting workers in Greater Melbourne to one site
The safety of residents and workers in residential aged care is the highest priority. To minimise the potential risk of workers unintentionally transmitting COVID-19 by working across multiple sites, aged care workers in residential aged care facilities in Greater Melbourne are encouraged to limit their work to one site. Where this is not possible and a worker is to attend more than one site, workers must declare this before beginning their shift and records must be kept to enable prompt contact tracing if required.
In line with the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s declaration of a hotspot for Greater Melbourne, Australian Government grant funding is available to support implementation of these arrangements over the hotspot period until 15 February. If the hotspot declaration is extended, these arrangements will also be extended.
A reminder that employers should ensure their workers are not financially disadvantaged during this period. Where this results in additional out of pocket costs for the provider, reimbursement can be sought through the grant application process. The Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) grant opportunity remains open until 30 June 2021.
For guidance on practical implementation of single site arrangements and the available funding support, providers can visit the Guiding Principles Support Hub website or phone the hotline on 1800 491 793.
Please also note that all workers working/volunteering in Hotel Quarantine and other ports of entry are restricted from working at any other health service, aged care service or organisation, other than the hotel quarantine site, unless they have obtained prior permission. This includes any existing employers, and covers paid work, self-employment and volunteer work (such as SES or CFA).
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.
What to do if you have a confirmed cases
All confirmed cases of a RACF resident or staff member must be notified to the Victorian Department of Health hotline 1300 651 160. All aged care providers should also notify positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test results by email to the Australian Department of Health: agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au and the Victorian Department of Health: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
For further information or enquiries, please contact the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) 1800 413 957.