Today’s newsletter contains information about a free webinar that will be held by the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) on Friday 15 January. The webinar will provide an update on COVID-19 in the Victorian aged care sector and lessons learnt from the outbreaks of 2020.
There is information on the support the Australian Government is currently providing for single site working arrangements in Queensland, Victoria and NSW, as well as a reminder on IPC lead training requirements and further details about asymptomatic testing in metropolitan Melbourne Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs).
We encourage you to share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams and encourage them to subscribe for future updates.
Please note, you can view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter.
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.
VACRC webinar update on COVID-19 in the Victorian aged care sector
When: Today - Friday 15 January, 1-1:45pm AEST
Lessons learned from the Victorian outbreaks will enable Australia’s aged care sector to enhance infection control and prevention methods, resources and protocols, as well as take advantage of new approaches to care delivery.
This webinar will review the experiences of major outbreaks in 2020 and explore how the outcomes will facilitate advancements. VACRC infection prevention experts will also review current epidemiology in Victoria and discuss the future of COVID-19 in Australia, including vaccination, long-term outlook and community transmission. Register to attend.
Australian Government support for single site working arrangements
Australian Government funding is available to support providers with the out of pocket costs of implementing single site workforce arrangements in a number of hotspot and high risk locations across the country.
Funding support under the Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) grant is available for residential aged care providers who choose to implement single site working arrangements between 8 January and 22 January 2021, in the following Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Greater Brisbane:
- City of Brisbane
- City of Ipswich
- Logan City
- Moreton Bay Region
- Redland City.
Funding support is also available for providers who have been implementing a single site working arrangement from 31 December 2020 in the following high risk suburbs in Victoria:
- Glen Waverley
Finally, funding support is also available for providers in the Northern Beaches LGA in New South Wales who have been implementing single site working arrangements from 18 December 2020.
In these locations, SACWIC will remain open for providers to submit their applications until 30 June 2021. Providers can submit an application for out of pocket expenses after 22 January 2021 but can apply earlier if a provider is experiencing significant financial strain.
The Department is monitoring local cases and, based on the advice from the Chief Medical Officer, will advise when providers can return to ordinary working arrangements.
In addition to funding support, providers can also access guidance on practical implementation of single site arrangements, including employee relations expertise, through the Guiding Principles Support Hub website or hotline on 1800 491 793.
Updated NSW directions for aged care providers and visitors
This advice extends directions to aged care providers to exclude visitors who have been in the following LGAs of Queensland since 2 January 2021: City of Brisbane, Logan City, City of Ipswich, Moreton Bay Region, Redland City, Lockyer Valley Region, Scenic Rim Region or Somerset Region.
Staff who have been to those identified Queensland LGAs since 2 January 2021 and are essential for maintaining the service should have a risk assessment performed in consultation with the local public health unit.
Aged care providers are urged to regularly visit the NSW COVID-19 website on areas of active community transmission.
Updated Queensland directions for aged care providers and visitors
Queensland Health has issued Aged Care Direction no. 20 which came into effect at 11 am on 14 January 2021.
This update specifies that people who have been in Victoria on or after 21 December 2020 may now visit a residential aged care facility. Employees, contractors and other persons necessary for the operation of the facility no longer need to provide a negative COVID-19 test before entry.
All visitors must not have any COVID-19 symptoms and comply with all other restrictions of the facility.
The advice for people who have been in Greater Brisbane on or after 2 January 2021 remains, in that unless 14 days have passed since the person left Greater Brisbane, they are restricted from entering a residential aged care facility in Queensland. Greater Brisbane includes:
- City of Brisbane (PDF)
- City of Ipswich (PDF)
- Logan City (PDF)
- Moreton Bay Region (PDF)
- Redland City (PDF)
Despite these restrictions, you may enter a residential aged care facility if you wear a single use surgical face mask and the appropriate PPE and are:
- an employee, contractor, or student of the facility
- providing goods or services necessary for the facility’s operation
- providing health, medical, personal care or pharmaceutical or pathology services to a resident
- required for emergency management, law enforcement or to comply with a power or function of a government agency or entity
- a prospective resident or a support person of a prospective resident
- maintaining continuity of care for a resident that can’t be delivered by non-contact means – with permission of the facility’s operator
- attending for an end of life visit and have been granted an exemption.
Anyone providing medical care (including staff, volunteers or family members) must wear appropriate PPE as outlined in Queensland Health’s Residential Aged Care facility and Disability Accommodation PPE Guidance. Visitors are restricted to residential aged care facilities within the current restricted Local Government Areas within the Metro North, Metro South and West Moreton Hospital and Health Service regions.
Reminder on IPC lead training requirements
As a part of the second COVID-19 supplement, residential aged care providers are required to put in place an infection prevention and control (IPC) lead.
Nominated IPC leads should now be undertaking specialist IPC training (if not previously completed) in order to complete this by 28 February 2021. Providers are encouraged to support their nominated IPC lead to meet this deadline.
Residential aged care providers were required to report their IPC leads to the Department in December 2020 through the My Aged Care Provider Portal. Providers can continue to update this information in the portal to reflect any changes to nominated leads and/or progression through the training. The Department will be contacting providers who have yet to report or misreported shortly.
Stay up to date with COVID-19 exposure locations and alerts
All approved aged care providers are urged to continue to monitor and remain up to date with the list of COVID-19 exposure sites across jurisdictions. State and territory health authorities continue to update these lists as new information becomes available. We encourage providers to ensure staff are also familiar with these lists.
- NSW case locations and alerts
- Victoria case locations and alerts
- Queensland case locations and alerts
Information about asymptomatic testing in metropolitan Melbourne RACFs
As you will be aware, asymptomatic testing for residential aged care facilities (RACFs) located in the Melbourne metropolitan area is still required on a fortnightly basis, under the Victorian Public Health Direction.
To support broader uptake of the asymptomatic testing by staff in RACFs, the process of fortnightly testing has changed. The Australian Government has contracted Sonic Healthcare (Melbourne Pathology) to undertake testing across Melbourne. Over the course of a month, Sonic will attend in-person on one occasion. The second round of testing will be undertaken by RACFs themselves. To complete this second test within the month, RACFs should:
- Order the testing swabs from Sonic
- Provide direction to staff to undertake their own swabbing
- Advise Sonic for swab pick up through their pathology collections processes.
Ordering, testing and collection instructions – metro Melbourne
Please see the guide for ordering swabs, undertaking the test and how swabs can be collected. If you have any questions, please contact:
- Amanda Young: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0421 586 654
- Judith Mathews: email@example.com or 0436 940 145
You can also contact Sonic on the Sonic Aged Care Facility COVID-19 Hotline 1800 570 573, 8am-6pm.
Victorian regional RACFs
There is no change to asymptomatic testing for RACFs located in regional Victoria. Testing will continue on a monthly basis by Sonic. Note: private RACFs will follow the asymptomatic testing process outlined, public RACFs will follow the process provided by the Victorian Government.