Date published: 
18 March 2020
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

As the Government is taking vital steps to protect older Australians I am pleased to share with you our new newsletter ‘Protecting Older Australians.’ This specific COVID-19 related newsletter, ensures you all have access to best practice information and resources, as it evolves throughout this health emergency.

The newsletter will be the Department’s daily ‘source of truth’ covering important messages, new fact sheets, resources and campaign material. We encourage you to share with your own audiences, consumers and staff. By reading each day you can be certain you are operating from the most current advice available.

Over the coming days and weeks, this email will evolve, we are doing all that we can to group together the various streams of information available and to get clearance from the Chief Medical Officer for new information. We ask for your forbearance and agedcarecovidliasion [at] health.gov.au (we welcome your feedback on content.)

Thank you for your continued and vital efforts in helping protect older Australians from exposure to COVID-19. It is your important work that will keep them safe, and we are here to help you as much as possible.

We encourage you to share these updates with all your staff and members.

Potential for restricted access to residental aged care facilities (RACFs)

Current social distancing advice for aged care providers

Social distancing is the most important action to protect vulnerable Australian’s from exposure to COVID-19. Yesterday, the Government formally encouraged aged care providers to begin limiting visitors under national guidelines aimed at the prevention and control of COVID-19.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, said the advice from the Communicable Disease Network of Australia (CDNA) issued to aged care facilities around Australia outlines the precautionary measures for residents, staff and their families as the Federal Government continues to implement strategies to contain the virus.

This information includes the recommendation that family and friends limit visits to residential care facilities, particularly for residents already suffering from chronic illness.

Read the full statement from the Minister.

Likely expansion of social distancing measures

As you are likely aware the National Cabinet are consulting with the CDNA on the extension of current social distancing measures, including the possibility of Restricted Access of Aged Care Facilities as a preventative measure over the coming days.

Ahead of any potential announcement, providers are highly encouraged to review their Infection Control Plan which can be activated in circumstances of infectious outbreaks like Norovirus or influenza.

Despite the challenges associated with limiting visitors, it is important that clients and their families view Restricted Access as a preventative measure to protect their loved ones, rather than a response to a specific threat at their location. We encourage all providers to use positive language when communicating these changes to clients and their families. And remember that technology can often provide a solution to clients keeping in touch with their family and friends during this critical time.

Infectious control eLearning

We have secured this online training module to provide care workers across all sectors including health, aged care and disability with infection prevention and control (IPC) for COVID-19. It includes information on:

The module is designed for the whole workforce, whether working in health facilities or in people’s homes, to provide a baseline of information for the critical work you are doing at the frontline inpatient care. At the end of the module (which should take no longer than 30 minutes), there is a short quiz to self-test a user’s knowledge and a completion certificate. While we understand all services will have up to date procedures and staff will have competencies, the module is an important refresher design to give the workforce more confidence in the light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Over the coming weeks, there will be more modules developed. For now, it is important that all frontline workers complete this training so they can feel confident in protecting their health and providing best-practice infection prevention, including those who may be at higher risk of COVID-19.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this course, over 6000 front-line workers have since its release yesterday. Please encourage others in your workplace or organisation to do the same.

On completing the eLearning you are able to download the resources for future reference. If you have already completed the training be sure to log in and download the resources.

Promoting eLearning among staff and networks

It's important that all workers across the sector undertake the Infectious Control eLearning. Please encourage them to participate by sharing the link across your internal communication channels and social media. You can provide an incentive to staff to complete and email you their certificate.

Update on personal protective equipment (PPE)

While there is a global shortage of PPE and organisations may have had difficulty in securing additional or back up supplies

It is important that you have the confidence to use your existing stock now in the knowledge that the Government will facilitate access to additional stocks should you be unable to source them or if you have a covid19 outbreak.

If you currently have no stocks please email AgedCareCOVIDPPE [at] health.gov.au. You will be required to provide the details of your service and an explanation for the need. These supplies will then be provided via state and territory governments on behalf of the Commonwealth Government

Aged care/institutions

The Australian Government will also be deploying masks to States and Territories to support its aged care workforce in the coming days. GPs visiting aged care facilities, will also have access to masks through their local PHN. More information will follow shortly.

Procedure for access to the stockpile

The Department is triaging any urgent requests and is recommending additional deployments of Protective equipment from the Stockpile according to need. Please email AgedCareCOVIDPPE [at] health.gov.au.

Resources

Key contact

Providers can access advice and support by emailing agedcarecovidliason [at] health.gov.au and are encouraged to centralise all aged care COVID-19 related enquiries through this single dedicated point of contact.​​​

Your feedback

agedcarecovidliasion [at] health.gov.au (We welcome your feedback on newsletter content.)

Coming soon

Information coming soon:

  • Fact sheets for older Australians, and frontline aged care workers
  • Next provider and consumer peaks COVID-19 teleconference call
    The Department will meet again with Peak bodies and Providers regarding COVID-19 communications again on Wednesday 18 March, after a productive meeting on Monday 16 March amid ongoing consultation.
  • Further advice specific for in-home care
  • Answers to your questions for Friday’s webinar
  • Mechanism for accessing support under the aged care component of the Health Care
    The Department is finalising the process and to access grants, funding and resources under the aged care component of the Health Care Plan.
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