Date published: 
18 August 2020
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s edition provides information on new face-to-face personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control training available for aged care workers in Victoria.

Further information on the use of face shields and goggles is also contained in this edition, as is advice on the use of P2/N95 respirators for health care workers in Victoria.

There is information about the Victorian Permitted Worker Scheme and the latest advice from New South Wales on expanded restrictions and minimising the movement of workers across sites.

Thank you to all providers and our wonderful aged care workforce, especially those in Victoria, who continue to support our senior Australians during this critical time.

Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

Free face-to-face PPE training in Victoria

Free face-to-face infection control training is now available for people working in residential aged care facilities in Victoria.

This new training program announced by the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck, builds upon the online training program released by the Australian Government earlier in the year.

This free training is being delivered by Monash University, in partnership with the Victorian government.

Bookings are welcomed from all residential aged care facilities across Victoria without any current cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) among their staff and residents. Please fill in the booking request form or contact PPE.Project [at] monash.edu for more information.

The Australian Government Department of Health has also developed online training for care workers across all health care settings, including aged care. This training covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Use of face shields and goggles in residential aged care facilities

In residential aged care facilities, face shields or other protective eyewear (such as goggles) should be worn for the routine care of suspected, probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Read guidance on the use of PPE in areas with significant community transmission. The risk of COVID-19 from transmission via the eye is unknown. However, as the predominant mode of transmission is via droplets, eye (and conjunctival) protection should be worn until further evidence emerges.

In geographical areas with significant community transmission, face shields should be worn by all staff working in residential aged care facilities (in addition to other PPE, including a surgical mask or particulate filter respirator). This includes support staff who do not have patient contact. This is due to the high risk or transmission in residential care facilities and the vulnerability of residents to infection.

Use of P2/N95 respirators in Victoria

Due to an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19, the Victorian PPE Taskforce has updated its advice for all health care workers  in Victoria.

The Victorian Government has issued guidance on the use of P2/N95 respirators. Health care workers must wear a N95/P2 respirator:

  • in settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are cohorted and where frequent, prolonged episodes of care are provided (that is, providing care for a patient on a dedicated COVID-19 ward)
  • in uncontrolled settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are cohorted, to avoid the need for frequent changes of N95/P2 respirators
  • where suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are cohorted and there is risk of unplanned aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) and/or aerosol generating behaviours
  • when undertaking an AGP on suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) patient.

Victorian Permitted Worker Scheme

Under Stage 4 restrictions, employers that require their staff to attend a work site must issue a worker permit to their employees.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has provided the following advice:

  • Workers in aged care and disability need a permit. 
  • A registered nurse who primarily works for a non-government provider of aged care or disability will also need a permit to work in those settings. 
  • A hospital or health worker who is exempt from needing to obtain and carry a permit will retain that exemption if they are seconded to work temporarily in a non-government aged care setting (with photo ID etc). This exemption extends to AUSMAT teams.

Read about the Victorian Permitted Worker Scheme COVID-19.

Updated restrictions and advice from New South Wales

The New South Wales Chief Health Officer has released new advice to aged care providers.

As part of preparedness planning, aged care providers should put in place arrangements to limit staff working across facilities.

Where ceasing staff movement across facilities is not practicable, staff movement should be minimised and additional measures should be put in place, such as maintaining records of staff and work locations and increasing use of PPE.

The local government area of Hornsby Shire and Hills District, has also been added to the list of regions required to implement the following measures:

  • Any visitors to any residential aged care facility who have been in the following local government areas in the previous 14 days should be excluded from the facility: Hornsby Shire, Hills District, Newcastle, Merrylands (suburb), Guildford (suburb), Canterbury-Bankstown (Bankstown part), Waverley, Woollahra, eastern part of City of Sydney (Sydney, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Rushcutters Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Centennial Park. Removed: Eveleigh, Alexandria, Beaconsfield, Rosebery and Eastlakes), Parramatta, Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown and Camden.
  • All aged care staff who reside in the above local government areas or a New South Wales/Victorian border community must wear a surgical mask while in the facility.
  • Staff and visitors who have visited any of the locations on the same date as a COVID-19 case (see updated list of venues and dates) should be excluded for a period of 14 days since their visit to the listed location.
  • All residential aged care staff who work in residential aged care facilities located within the above local government areas and in communities along the New South Wales/Victorian border must wear a surgical mask while in the facility.
  • Residential aged care facilities in the above local government areas should not allow any visitors (visitors performing essential caring functions may be allowed but must wear a mask). In exceptional circumstances, seek advice from your local NSW Health public health unit on 1300 066 055.

Home care service providers who either live or work in any of these designated local government areas must also wear face masks while providing services.

In New South Wales/Victorian border communities, only visitors from New South Wales are permitted provided:

  • the facility obtains name and contact detail of visitors (in case there is a need for contact tracing)
  • the visitor is checked against the above questions
  • the temperature of the visitor is checked to be below 37.5 degrees Celsius
  • the visitor is escorted directly to the room (single room) of their loved one, and must remain within the room for the duration of the visit. At the completion of the visit, the visitor is to be escorted directly back to the reception area
  • a surgical mask is to be worn at all times
  • hand hygiene is facilitated
  • visits are restricted to once/day for each person
  • a maximum of 2 visitors at a time; children are to be closely supervised.

Measures such as phone or video calls should be made available to all residents to enable continuation of communication with family, friends or others who are not allowed to enter the facility at this time.

Read the latest New South Wales advice for residential aged care providers and home care service providers.

Aged Care Employee Day

To mark Aged Care Employee Day on Friday August 7, the Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck released a statement thanking all aged care workers for their outstanding devotion to senior Australians in care.

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