Date published: 
14 May 2020
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s newsletter contains information about the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19. The Code was released yesterday (12 May) by aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations. The Code includes the respective rights and responsibilities of providers, residents and visitors and outlines that residential aged care services should allow residents to have visitors in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 being introduced or spread within a residential facility.

This edition also contains clarification about security of tenure for aged care residents during COVID-19, information about respite care during COVID-19 and an acknowledgement to our frontline nursing staff to mark International Nurses Day 2020.

Resources in this edition include a link to translated guides for providers on when to use personal protective equipment (PPE) in aged care.

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

Aged Care Visitor Access Code

An Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 has been released by aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations.

The Code includes the respective rights and responsibilities of providers, residents and visitors. It also outlines that residential aged care services should allow residents to meet their visitors in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 being introduced or spread within a residential facility.

The Code supports a human rights approach to care that both protects and respects aged care residents and their visitors. The Code acknowledges the work that providers and staff are doing to keep people safe during the pandemic.

The Code reminds all residents and their visitors that they can seek to arrange a visit with their residential aged care facility. Many aged care facilities are asking visitors to use a booking system in order to manage the number of visitors in their facility at any one time. This also provides the opportunity for staff to clean a designated visiting area in between visits.

Read the full Industry Code.

Security of tenure during COVID-19

Security of tenure for residents within an aged care facility differs during COVID-19.

If there is an instance of confirmed COVID-19 or suspected cases of COVID-19 in an aged care home, or where a resident wishes to return to an aged care home while suffering from or suspected to be suffering from COVID-19, there may be a need to temporarily move a resident to another room within a facility, or in some circumstances to a different care location.

These circumstances differ from the usual principles described in the User Rights Principles, as it would likely be considered an emergency situation in accordance with the principles.

If an aged care facility is not suitable for the isolation of a resident with COVID-19, the Public Health Orders require that person to travel directly to a suitable place to reside in until they are medically cleared. Compliance with the Public Health Orders would therefore permit residents to be moved to other appropriate care locations temporarily. The decision whether an aged care facility is suitable is made by the State or Territory Public Health Unit in consultation with the aged care provider, resident and their family.

If a resident needs to be moved, this move should be made on a temporary basis in consultation with the resident and their family, and preferably with the resident’s agreement.

In situations, however, where an aged care facility wanted to permanently move a resident to a new room or out of the facility, then normal security of tenure arrangements apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more on the security of tenure for aged care residents and the user rights principles.

Respite care during COVID-19

Respite services continue to be available for carers. Emergency respite can be accessed through the Carer Gateway and planned respite can be organised by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

While the Department continues to encourage service providers to accept clients in need of respite where safe to do so, all services must comply with social distancing measures, infection control measures and visit restriction requirements to ensure client safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “It’s ok to have home care” factsheet has been created to assist the providers of in-home care, including community respite service providers, to allay some community concerns around having an aged care worker visit a person at home.

Respite service providers are also reminded of the following resources that have been provided to assist aged care workers in appropriately using PPE in both residential and home care settings:

  1. Flowchart on when to use PPE in residential and home care
  2. Video by Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer demonstrating how to wear PPE for aged care workers
  3. Training module for aged care workers on PPE including information on when to use it
  4. Coronavirus Guide for Home Care Providers
  5. Advice for health and aged care sector on PPE

Information about the COVID-19 screening protocols for residents being admitted from other health facilities and community settings, including recipients of respite care, can be found here:

  1. COVID-19 information for families and residents on restricted visits to residential aged care facilities
  2. Quality Commission advice on screening advice for residential aged care facilities
  3. Quality Commission advice on visitor restrictions
  4. Industry code for visiting residential aged care homes during COVID-19.

International Nurses Day 2020

Yesterday marked a day of acknowledgment for people working in the nursing sector.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck commented on work of frontline nursing staff in a statement released from Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt’s office.

See the full statement including Minister Colbeck’s comments.

The Department would like to thank all nurses for the care they are providing to older Australians and particularly those that are working in COVID-19 positive services at the moment. This is a challenging time and the support you are providing is critical. Thank you!

Resources

Coming soon

  • Updated information about the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Grant
  • Safe Work Australia guides
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