Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s newsletter provides information on Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) and Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN) revised joint guidelines for the release from isolation of persons who have had COVID-19.

There is information on counselling services available for Victorian aged care workers, details around workforce support for CHSP providers and a link to an infographic on when and how to wear a mask.

We have also included the details of a letter that the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre have sent to Victorian aged care providers about notifications for suspected COVID-19 cases.

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.

Revised CDNA and PHLN guidelines for release from isolation

CDNA and PHLN have revised their advice on the release from isolation of persons who have had COVID-19. This includes people who live or are returning to work in settings considered high-risk for outbreaks. These settings include hospitals, aged care facilities, remote mining sites, and other residential communities.

After assessing international evidence and Australian public health experience, CDNA and PHLN have agreed to revised criteria. People who are eligible for release from isolation, based on the clinical criteria, do not pose a risk of onward infection. People who have recovered from COVID-19 are no longer required to meet additional laboratory testing criteria prior to going into high-risk settings.

CDNA and PHLN agree that, for significantly immunocompromised people, negative PCR tests are required following COVID-19 illness, before they are released from isolation. This is because prolonged shedding of viable virus with other viral infections is frequently seen in immunocompromised people.

To release significantly immunocompromised people from isolation, they must meet the clinical criteria, and test PCR negative for SARS-CoV-2 on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart, at least 7 days after symptom onset.

Read the revised criteria.

Counselling for Victorian aged care workers

The Australian Government, industry, peak bodies and unions are working together to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections in residential aged care facilities.

On Monday 27 July 2020, industry released The guiding principles for residential aged care - keeping Victorian residents and workers safe (the principles) with the support of government, peak bodies and unions.

Support is available to aged care workers whose regular working arrangements have changed as a result of the principles. These workers can get free counselling services from Converge International.

Converge International will deliver up to 5 free counselling sessions per person. Services include employee and manager support, career guidance, financial counselling and family support. These services are available for a three month period to 10 November 2020.

Phone 1800 697 327 (free call) or visit www.convergeinternational.com.au to book an appointment. Make sure you state that you are from the 'Vic Residential Aged Care Workforce' when booking.

In addition, a Support Hub is available for Victorian aged care providers using the principles. The Guiding Principles Support Hub by ACSA and LASA is available by phoning 1800 491 793 (free call).

Workforce support for CHSP providers

The Department of Health recognises that many CHSP service providers currently operating in COVID-19 hotspots are experiencing issues recruiting and retaining key aged care workers and clinical care staff.

To help support providers during this period, the department is encouraging the use of online workforce platforms to help providers access qualified staff and volunteers.

CHSP service providers can also subcontract other organisations to deliver services on their behalf within their Aged Care Planning Region (ACPR). Subcontracting arrangements can assist service providers to deliver services in local areas where they do not have their own service footprint.

CHSP service providers are responsible for ensuring subcontractors comply with the program guidelines, reporting requirements and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Standards.

If CHSP service providers require additional funding to meet costs associated with COVID-19, including the temporary expansion of services within their ACPRs, they can apply for additional funding through the CHSP emergency support for COVID-19 ad hoc funding round.

For more information about this funding opportunity and to access an application form, please contact your Community Grants Hub Funding Arrangement Manager.

Letter to Victorian residential aged care providers from the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre

On Friday 7 August, the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) wrote to residential aged care providers in Victoria requesting notification in the event of a suspected case of COVID-19.

The letter provided information regarding the notification process of a suspected case of COVID-19 in an aged care facility, which does not already have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Facilities are required to email their notification to VACRC.COVID19Notifications [at] health.gov.au and include the text 'SUSPECTED COVID19 CASE REPORTING' in the subject heading.

In the body of the email, include the following:

  • your Residential Aged Care ID number
  • de-identified information on how many suspected cases you have
  • a mobile phone number contact for your facility for the purposes of VACRC being able to make contact to follow up this notification.

For queries or to report a case call 0413 399 020 9am to 7pm, seven days a week.

Please note that in the event this is a positive test, then please follow the usual process for notifying this to the Department of Health including emailing agedcareCOVIDcases [at] health.gov.au.

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