Protecting older Australians: COVID-19 update 18 April 2020

What’s new: Updated information on flu vaccinations from Minister Colbeck, Reporting COVID-19 Outbreaks, Information about COVID-19 clusters and cases, Infection control in Home Care and Cessation of Home Care packages during COVID-19.

Date published:
Health sector

Today’s newsletter contains information from the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport, The Hon Senator Richard Colbeck, on the importance of getting a flu vaccination and assistance from Primary Health Networks (PHNs).

This edition covers several topics and has an important reminder on reporting outbreaks and information on infection control in Home Care.

It also provides a link to the Department of Health’s weekly epidemiological reports, which provide information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) clusters and cases.

Once again, we are reminding everyone working in aged care to stay at home if you are unwell. It is the best thing you can do for the vulnerable people you care for.

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

Flu Vaccination Information and Asssitance from PHNs

The Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport, The Hon Senator Richard Colbeck, has today provided advice regarding assistance from Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in coordinating the all important flu vaccination for aged care workers this flu season.

Aged care workers and care recipients across Australia are being urged to roll up their sleeves for flu vaccinations under a sweeping campaign to protect their health. It is particularly important staff and residents of residential aged care facilities receive the flu vaccination this season.

To assist access to the flu vaccine, PHNs are contacting all residential aged care providers by region to undertake a needs assessment and coordinate influenza vaccination programs for those services with an identified need. The provisions may include sourcing vaccine supply and supplying qualified vaccine administrators.

Reminder: Reporting COVID-19 Outbreaks

With the recent media on outbreaks in some residential care facilities we wanted to take the time to remind services about what to do in the event of an outbreak.

It is essential that you report to your local Public Health Unit immediately if you have a confirmed case of either care recipients of workers in your service.

We also ask that you advise us at the same time so that we can assist you in knowing what support is available including access PPE and supplementary workforce if required.

Please advise us at

The Department will be in touch promptly to discuss options for support.

This information will also be communicated to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission so that they can support you and provide advice about ensuring aged care providers are supported in providing safe, quality care during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

COVID-19 Clusters and Cases

The Department of Health provides weekly epidemiological reports on the incidence, severity, and distribution of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Australia.

The reports provide a summary of notification rates in Australia, and the distribution of COVID-19 notifications geographically, as well as by age and gender.

This report may be of interest to providers to understand how COVID-19 is evolving in Australia.

Infection Control in Home Care

It’s important for all aged care workers entering care recipients’ homes to practice good infection control to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Moving between care recipients who have or may have COVID-19 is not limited to trained clinicians, and all workers providing support need to follow appropriate infection control measures. These are

  • Stay at home if you are feeling unwell and do not return to work until respiratory symptoms have completely resolved.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing
  • Get the flu vaccine as soon as you can
  • Make sure you know when and how to use PPE
  • Consider if some care can be delivered in alternative ways e.g. delivering food without contact.

Resources on these measures are available on in the resources section for health and aged care workers.

Aged care workers are also encouraged to complete the aged care and infection control training modules.

Reminder: It’s OK to Continue to Receive Home Care

There are a number of reasons why a consumer, or their representative, may ask to stop receiving home care services. If a client’s circumstances have changed due to COVID-19, home care providers can offer to review the person’s care plan and adjust their package of care and services.

If a client is concerned about exposure to COVID-19, providers should advise their clients they are taking all necessary measures to ensure they stay safe. Providers can leave an information sheet with their clients to help assure them it’s ok to have home care.

Clients who decide they do not want to receive care, can suspend or ‘take leave’ from their package. This qualifies as ‘social leave’ and is subject to the usual provisions.

Clients who choose to suspend their services will now receive phone calls to ensure their wellbeing. The Government is working with a number of consumer organisations, including the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) to provide this welfare check outreach service.


Coming Soon

  • A webinar on learnings from COVID-19 outbreaks (date TBC)

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