Weekly update on Aged Care and COVID-19 with the Ministers
We are resuming weekly COVID-19 meetings to support the sector with key updates and advice as cases continue to rise.
The first session will be held online on Monday 18 July 12pm – 1pm (AEST)
Please register to attend.
The session will be attended in part by the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP and the Minister for Aged Care, the Hon Anika Wells MP as well as presentations by Departmental officials. There will be a moderated Q&A session with the Departmental officials and we encourage you to submit questions in advance through the registration link.
To find further information on COVID please visit our website:
Managing your service during winter – release of Aged Care Winter Plan 2022
With the co-circulation of both COVID-19 and influenza, we have produced the Winter Plan – A guide for residential aged care providers (the Plan).
The plan provides overarching guidance and resources for aged care providers to support their readiness, response and recovery from exposures and outbreaks of COVID-19 and/or influenza during winter 2022.
Targeted primarily at the residential setting, the plan includes checklists of practical, on the ground actions which providers (both residential and/or community based aged care) should be considering throughout winter 2022.
Additional information can also be found on the Managing a COVID-19 outbreak in residential aged care web page.
COVID-19 oral treatments - administration and eligibility criteria update
The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has written to residential aged care providers and released a statement on the standard of care required in the administration and use of COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments in Residential Aged Care Facilities. Please read the CMO's letter and accompanying statement.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has recommended expanded eligibility criteria for COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments, Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) and Lagevrio (molnupiravir).
From Monday 11 July 2022, eligibility has been broadened to include people who have chronic respiratory issues due to conditions such as COPD, moderate or severe asthma and there is also greater access for adults living with disability who have multiple medical conditions.
Not being vaccinated has been removed as a risk factor from the criteria for prescription under the PBS.
All Australians aged over 70 who test positive to COVID-19, with or without symptoms, are now able to access these oral antivirals on the PBS. It is critical that oral treatments are accessible for every COVID positive resident over 70 years of age.
RACFs are encouraged to pre-assess any potentially eligible residents which should include:
- discussing consent options for potential treatment with the aged care resident and relevant decision-maker
- identifying eligible aged care residents in RACF clinical management systems
- discussing potential medicine administration with the aged care resident’s prescriber, GP, nurse practitioner and facility clinical care staff
- ensuring dispensing pathway is established with community pharmacy.
Read more about the updated eligibility conditions.
- Fact sheet - Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) PBS listing (July 2022)
- Fact sheet - Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) PBS listing (July 2022)
- Fact sheet - Changes to PBS eligibility for COVID-19 treatments - Information for prescribers and pharmacists
You can also read the Minister's media statement.
Improvements to COVID-19 outbreak or exposure reporting in residential aged care via COVID-19 Support Portal
Residential aged care services are required to submit a notification report of a COVID-19 outbreak or exposure via the COVID-19 Support portal.
We have made enhancements to the notification form to streamline reporting by residential aged care services.
The improved template for reporting COVID-19 outbreaks or exposures is scheduled to be available from 20 July 2022.
The enhancements include:
- reduction in data reporting fields
- improved navigation and functionality
- incorporating PPE request management as part of the outbreak notification form
- a simplified report closure at the end of an outbreak.
No new data fields will be added to the notification form.
Current outbreak or exposure notifications will automatically transition to the new template.
Resources will be available shortly to assist you to transition to the changes, including a step-by-step user guide, fact sheet, and FAQs.
Please ensure the staff responsible in your service for reporting outbreak or exposure information are made aware of the upcoming changes and resources that will be available.
For queries relating to the notification functionality, contact your case manager.
Changes to provision of Rapid Antigen Test kits
We are introducing changes to the provision of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits.
From 20 July 2022, we will cease supplying to residential aged care facilities experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak or exposure. This is because:
- outbreak sites can seek reimbursement of RATs through the COVID-19 Support Grant and will have access to PCR testing through Public Health Units and GP oversight.
- PCR testing is required for access to treatment for COVID-19 positive individuals.
In addition, from 20 July 2022, we are moving from weekly to fortnightly allocations as a contribution towards residential aged care facilities’ screening supply.
Residential aged care providers are responsible for sourcing Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) kits. This includes having sufficient levels on hand for managing safe, quality care and any infectious disease outbreaks.
Providers must contact commercial suppliers in the first instance to source supplies and make sure they are able to re-stock as needed throughout an outbreak. We are aware that there is currently sufficient stock in the domestic market.