Date published: 
11 June 2020
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s edition offers information around active symptom monitoring for residents of aged care facilities who are being re-admitted from other health facilities. 

There is an update on Sonic in-reach pathology. The Sonic Healthcare service has been made available in addition to existing public health pathology services to ensure the testing of residents and staff of residential aged care facilities is supported during the pandemic. It provides a supplementary testing service to assist the aged care sector where needed.

Additionally, we have included a link to the ‘It’s ok to have home care’ infographic.

As always, many thanks to you and your teams for your continued support to protect older Australians.

Re-admission of residents from other health facilities

In accordance with the recommendations of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (AHPPC), all residential aged care facilities should conduct active screening for symptoms of COVID-19 in residents being admitted or re-admitted from other health facilities. Residents admitted from other health facilities should be assessed by appropriate medical staff prior to admission to the facility. New residents with COVID-19 compatible symptoms should not be permitted to enter a residential aged care facility.

Residents who have been transferred to hospital for any reason, including COVID-19, should be readmitted to the facility as soon as they are well enough to be discharged from hospital.

Active screening, monitoring of symptoms and appropriate infection prevention and control practices remains of utmost importance for residents returning from treatment or care at other facilities.

To assist residential aged care facilities in managing the risk of introducing COVID-19 into a facility, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission provided advice to residential aged care facilities on entry screening advice for people entering residential aged care facilities.

Update on Sonic in-reach pathology

The Government has engaged Sonic Healthcare (Sonic) to provide a dedicated pathology service for rapid sample collection and testing for suspected cases of COVID-19 in residential aged care facilities.

This service has been made available to supplement existing public health pathology services to assist with the testing of residents and staff of residential aged care facilities during the pandemic where requested by a medical practitioner.

In the event of an outbreak or suspected outbreak of COVID-19 in a residential aged care facility, the first step a provider should take is to contact their local Public Health Unit who will follow the COVID-19 National Guidelines for Public Health Units, including notifying the relevant state/territory communicable diseases unit and through that, the Department of Health.

An outbreak management team comprised of representatives from the residential aged care provider, the local Public Health Unit and the appointed state-based case manager from the Department of Health will then work collaboratively to determine whether Sonic in-reach pathology will be required.

The Sonic in-reach pathology service provides:

  • a dedicated national toll-free number 1800 570 573 operating from 8am to 6pm local time in each state and territory to receive and prioritise requests for COVID-19 testing of residents and/or staff of a residential aged care facility from a medical practitioner
  • a specialised COVID-19 pathology collector to attend a facility as soon as possible (between 8am and 8pm in each state and territory)
  • provide results by phone to the requesting medical practitioner and registered nurse attached to the facility within a 24 hour turnaround time for metropolitan areas or 48 hour turnaround time for regional areas, measured from receipt of the request
  • at the medical practitioner’s request, if a result is positive, send a specialised COVID-19 collection team to collect samples from all staff and residents.

If, due to remoteness, Sonic is unable to provide collection services, pre-prepared COVID-19 collection kits will be sent to a residential aged care facility. A training video and support will be provided to staff to support the collection of samples.

In all cases the service must be requested by a medical practitioner. Testing provided under this service will be bulk billed under Medicare. This service will be available until 30 September 2020.

'It's ok to have home care' infographic

There is now an ‘It’s ok to have Home Care' Infographic available to accompany the existing fact sheet which has been translated and is available to download in other languages.


Coming Soon

  • First person perspective articles on how to manage an outbreak
  • Further fact sheet resources