Protecting Older Australians: COVID-19 Newsletter 5 December 2022

What’s new: Recording of COVID-19 aged care update webinar, Festive season resources for providers and more.

Date published:
Health sector

Recording of COVID-19 aged care update webinar 

The Department is aware that, due to technical difficulties, a number of people were unable to join the webinar on Friday 2 December (2.30pm AEDT). The session was recorded and you are able to you to watch it here. We apologise for any inconvenience. 

Webinar – aged care COVID-19 update

The next webinar will be held on Monday, 12 December 2022, 3pm - 4pm (AEDT).
In this session we will focus on key updates and advice on COVID-19 as providers continue to manage and recover from outbreaks, particularly in the lead up to the festive season.

Please register to attend.

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

Festive season resources for providers

The Department has developed a suite of resources for aged care providers to use this festive season. There is a range of posters (A3 and A4 sizes) and social media tiles, including:

  • Stop! Help protect residents - Please do not enter if you have any symptoms.
  • 'Tis the season to be COVID safe
  • Help protect residents - please don't visit if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing flu like symptoms.

You can access these resources on the Department's website.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission's message to providers

The Chief Clinical Advisor from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission), Dr Melanie Wroth, has written to aged care providers to thank them for their efforts and continued focus on protecting residents and staff from COVID-19. The letter also outlines factors to be taken into consideration when reviewing and updating infection control processes and COVID-19 management strategies.

Dr Wroth also wrote to aged care residents and their families and asks that providers share that letter with their families and residents.

To understand more about resident rights and responsibilities we encourage you to review the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes. The Commission has also produced a series of Partnerships in care resources to support aged care residents and their family or close friends to continue their relationships of care and companionship, even during periods of an infectious disease outbreak.

Reminder – expediting access to oral antiviral treatments

It is critical that COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir), are urgently accessible to every eligible resident who has tested positive for COVID-19, particularly those aged 70 years or older, regardless of risk factors and whether they have symptoms or not. People over 50 with two risk factors for developing severe disease, First Nations people, aged 30 years or over, with one risk factor and people aged 18 years or older, with moderate to severe immunocompromise are also eligible.

To expediate residents’ access to antivirals, aged care providers should pre-assess residents for consent, discuss the administration of the medicine with residents, staff and primary care and have clear and established pathways with community pharmacies. Residents should be guided by primary care providers, who play a fundamental role in determining eligibility, discussing risk factors and prescribing the best clinically appropriate treatment. This is really important as antivirals need to be administered within 5 days of symptom onset, and the sooner the better, for the best outcome.

The Australian Government is actively encouraging pharmacists to stock these medicines. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Find a Pharmacy service enables you to search for pharmacies near you that have stock of oral treatments.

To support prompt treatment of patients medical practitioners and nurse practitioners are able to add Lagevrio® and Paxlovid® to their Prescriber Bag supplies.

Alternative access channels include local hospitals, public health units or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. In the event of an emergency, aged care providers can contact their Commonwealth case management team for assistance.

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

As a requirement under the Aged Care Act 1997, Accountability Principles, each aged care service needs to report annually (as at 31 October) on the number of residential aged care residents and aged care staff who received an influenza vaccination in 2022.

The collection of the number of residents and aged care staff who received an influenza vaccination in 2022 is important information to support future activities in the lead up to the annual influenza season in 2023 and to ensure adequate steps have been taken to protect residents and staff.

Providers are reminded to submit their reports via the online form

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