Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 Update 17 March 2022

In this edition: Additional funding announcements, Mandated COVID-19 booster vaccination for aged care workers, COVID-19 Portal PPE requests and portal reporting, Update on aged care and COVID-19 with the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services

Date published:
Audience:
Health sector

Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information.

Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams and encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter as well as other announcements for the aged care sector on the department's website.

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.

Winter Preparedness – additional funding announced

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, has announced an investment of a further $1.2 billion from the Australian Government to prepare and protect senior Australians against COVID-19 and influenza this winter.

Enhanced preparation within the sector and continued response capability will ensure senior Australians continue to receive safe and quality care as aged care providers face the impacts from winter viruses such as influenza, as well as continuing to respond to the threat of COVID-19.

The new investment focuses principally on residential aged care and will also benefit senior Australians who access aged care services in their own homes. This includes:

  • ensuring stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) in aged care facilities
  • more infection prevention and control training for nurses
  • more vaccination training
  • continued COVID-19 testing for residents and staff
  • financial support for providers to manage the direct impacts of COVID-19.

You can read Minister Colbeck's full statement with further details on the department's website.

Mandated COVID-19 booster vaccination for aged care workers

The immunity created by COVID-19 vaccines begins to wane over time. A booster dose will boost a person’s immune response and provide an additional layer to further reduce the risk of breakthrough infection.

On 10 February 2022, National Cabinet endorsed the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommendation to mandate COVID-19 booster vaccinations in residential aged care facilities.

It is now mandatory for residential aged care workers in all states and territories to get a booster dose:

  • ACT: from 28 March 2022, workers will need to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations
  • NSW: by 12 April 2022 or 6 weeks from the due date of your booster dose
  • NT: 11 March 2022 unless specific circumstances apply
  • QLD: from 31 March 2022 all workers must be up to date with their vaccinations
  • SA: within 4 weeks of becoming eligible for a booster dose
  • TAS: by 1 April 2022
  • VIC: 12 March 2022
  • WA: 5 February 2022 or within a month of becoming eligible for a booster dose.

It is also mandatory for in-home and community aged care workers to get a booster dose in most states and territories, exlcluding Victoria and Queensland:

  • ACT: From 28 March 2022, workers will need to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations
  • NSW: by 12 April 2022 or 6 weeks from the due date for your booster dose
  • NT: by 22 April 2022
  • SA: within 4 weeks of becoming eligible for a booster dose in line with ATAGI guidelines
  • TAS: by 1 April 2022
  • WA: 5 February 2022 or within a month of becoming eligible for a booster dose.

Stay up to date at Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in aged care or via your state or territory health department website.

Aged care workers can get a priority booster dose

All aged care workers who are yet to receive a COVID-19 booster dose can access a priority booster dose through the following channels:

Workers can book a booster appointment at state and territory clinics and primary care providers using the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder.

Workers can also call the dedicated COVID-19 Helpline on 1800 020 080 (select option 4) for any questions about vaccination and for assistance on how to book an appointment.

Residential aged care workers can also get a priority booster dose at their facility if it is hosting or organising return booster clinics for residents and workers.

Facts sheets for residential and in-home and community aged care workers are available in 20 languages to explain how workers can receive a booster dose.

COVID-19 Portal PPE requests

The Commonwealth is making it easier for approved providers of residential aged care to access additional PPE during a COVID-19 outbreak.

From 30 March 2022, approved providers will be able to request additional PPE to support an active COVID-19 outbreak, via the COVID-19 Support Portal.

PPE will be delivered in standard size packs with all items provided. The allocation available to approved providers is based on the number of residents at the facility. We have worked with our clinical advisers to understand the average number of interactions per resident per day and built out a standard pack based on this advice.

The amount of PPE available to a facility will be precalculated when a request is made via the COVID-19 Portal, creating a more streamlined and efficient process for approved providers.

Approved providers are responsible for maintaining their standard PPE supply through their existing commercial channels. A standard pack co-contributes to the supply along with PPE from the facility. Requests through the COVID-19 Portal are only for additional PPE to support a current outbreak.

A user factsheet with step-by-step instructions on how to order, as well as FAQs, will be available shortly to support providers in the transition.

The COVID-19 Support Portal is accessed through the My Aged Care Provider Portal.

Until 30 March 2022, you should continue to request emergency PPE supplies through the existing arrangements:

  • Go to the RACF COVID-19 PPE and RAT support online form if you are a residential aged care facility (RACFs) with a current outbreak or exposure to request PPE or Rapid Antigen Tests.
  • from the National Medical Stockpile by applying online through the Department Consultation Hub, if:
    • you are a RACF who DOES NOT have a current outbreak or exposure, but are unable to source PPE
    • you deliver in-home aged care services.

COVID-19 Portal reporting – FAQs available

Residential aged care providers are required to report COVID-19 cases through the COVID-19 Portal, which can be accessed via the My Aged Care Provider Portal.

To assist providers through this process we have published answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to accompany the existing fact sheet and user guide.

If you are experiencing any issues with reporting through the portal, please call the My Aged Care Service Provider Helpline on 1800 836 799.

Reminder – Update on aged care and COVID-19 with the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, invites aged care providers to an update on Aged Care and COVID-19.

The session will be held online on Friday 18 March, 4.30pm - 5.30pm (AEDT).

Please register to attend. We are aiming to limit registration to one representative per organisation, so please have a discussion within your organisation to nominate an appropriate attendee.

The session will include a moderated Q&A session with the Minister and Department of Health officials and we encourage you to submit questions in advance.

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.