Providing aged care services during COVID-19

Resources and advice for aged care providers and workers who deliver services in residential aged care and in-home care settings. Find out when you must not go to work, getting coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, identifying symptoms in older people, and protecting yourself and the people you care for.

When you must not work

If you are an aged care worker, do not go to work if you have

  • returned from overseas in the past 14 days
  • travelled in the past 14 days as a cruise ship passenger or crew member
  • been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • a fever
  • a symptom, even a minor symptom, of respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion)

Let your employer know you need to quarantine at home.

If you are a residential aged care worker, you should also only work if you have had a flu shot. Exemptions apply in some states and territories.

To find out more, read the restrictions on entry into and visitors to aged care facilities fact sheet.

Getting tested

It’s important to detect COVID-19 in health and aged care workers as early as possible.

You are eligible for COVID-19 testing if you are an aged care worker and develop fever or respiratory symptoms.

Your doctor will confirm whether you need to be tested and will arrange for the test.

Aged and residential care facilities are high-risk settings. Staff (and residents) will also be tested if there are 2 or more people with fever and respiratory symptoms in the setting.

Identifying symptoms

Monitor the health of people in your care and watch out for symptoms of COVID-19. Keep in mind:

  • older people may not always have a fever
  • older people may also have increased confusion, worsening chronic conditions of the lungs, or loss of appetite

Be especially alert when caring for people with dementia or a cognitive impairment. They may not be able to tell you about potential symptoms or express pain or discomfort.

How to stop the spread

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, practise good hygiene and physical distancing and follow the limits on public gatherings.

For more on how you can protect yourself and those in your care, complete the 30-minute COVID-19 infection control training.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Wear appropriate PPE (gown, mask, protective eyewear and gloves) if you:

  • will be exposed to body fluids or very contaminated surfaces
  • are caring for someone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19

Remove your PPE before leaving the room or the person’s home. Wash or sanitise your hands straight after removing PPE.

For more about using PPE:

Getting PPE

Aged care providers can request PPE by emailing agedcareCOVIDPPE [at] health.gov.au

We assess requests and ask for more information if needed. If your request is successful, state and territory governments will distribute the agreed PPE to you.

We prioritise aged care providers with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Managing COVID-19 in residential aged care

Residential aged care facilities are legally responsible for infection prevention and control under the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care Quality Standards.

You must:

For more advice, read our COVID-19 factsheet for residential aged care workers.

Residents and their families and carers can read our COVID-19 advice for people in aged care facilities.

Managing COVID-19 in home care

Government-funded aged care providers of in-home care must minimise infection-related risks. This includes organisations that provide:

  • Home Care Packages
  • Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) services
  • some grant-funded services under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program

To meet the Aged Care Quality Standards, you must implement standard and transmission‑based precautions to prevent and control infection.

For advice on preparing equipment and staff, cleaning, working with your care recipients and more, read our COVID-19 guide for home care providers.

For advice on flu vaccinations, support for home care recipients, workers with visa work restrictions and more, read our COVID-19 factsheet for in-home care workers.

Older people and their families and carers can read our it’s ok to have home care fact sheet.

Support for care recipients

Some older people may feel more alone during the pandemic. They may:

  • have less contact with friends and relatives
  • feel isolated from their culture and heritage
  • have less contact with the outside world because some shops and activities have temporarily closed

To support older people, let them know about:

  • the Community Visitors Scheme for residential aged care and home care recipients — regular visits or contact from volunteers can help older people feel less isolated
  • Head to Health — this website provides information about mental health and digital support

Staying informed

To stay up to date on aged care and COVID-19:

You can also:

Australian Government WhatsApp channel for COVID-19

Join our COVID-19 WhatsApp channel to learn the latest on Australia's response to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you're already a WhatsApp user you can send a message to the channel to connect. If you don't have WhatsApp, download the app to join the channel.

Coronavirus Australia app

Stay up to date with official information and advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. You can check your symptoms and get notified when urgent information and updates are published.

Resources

Online training

A 30-minute online module — COVID-19 infection control training — is available for care workers across all health care settings. It includes training specific to aged care.

Other training modules include:

  • personal safety
  • families and visitors – residential care
  • families and visitors – in-home care
  • COVID-19 and aged care
  • outbreak management procedures
  • personal protective equipment
  • laundry
  • if you suspect a person has COVID-19

These modules take 5 to 10 minutes each. You will receive an acknowledgement of completion certificate for each module.

This training is hosted on an external site, provided by our COVID-19 training partner Aspen Medical.

Register now

Publications and fact sheets

See our COVID-19 resources for aged care services

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers

A collection of resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers, about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Visit the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s COVID-19 page for more resources including an overview of their compliance approach during the pandemic.

Webinars

View our:

Last updated: 
28 May 2020

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