Protecting older Australians: COVID-19 update 18 September 2020

What’s new: Personal protective equipment (PPE) reminder for aged care workers, PPE best practice webinar, support for aged care workers, National Aged Care Emergency Response briefing pack for workers, and Victorian Aged Care Response Centre marks 7 weeks in operation

Date published:
Health sector

Today’s newsletter contains a reminder for aged care professionals to consult the directives of both the Commonwealth and state health authorities when it comes to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

There is an update from the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) after 7 weeks of operation, as well as a link to the webinar the VACRC will hold tomorrow on best practice PPE use.

This edition also includes a reminder of the various supports available to aged care workers, who we know continue to work extraordinarily hard to support older Australians in care.

Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce and encourage them to subscribe for future updates.

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.

PPE reminder for aged care workers

Aged care workers are reminded of the need to ensure they follow the guidance of both the Commonwealth and their relevant state health authority on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in residential aged care facilities.

The Commonwealth has set out the following guidelines and resources:

PPE best practice webinar

The Victorian Age Care Response Centre (VACRC) will hold another of it’s ‘lunch and learn’ webinars, which feature subject matter experts from across the age services industry.

The topic is ‘PPE best practice’ on Friday 18 September from 1:00pm–1:45pm AEST and the final webinar of the series will be ‘Lessons learnt' on Friday 25 September.

On Wednesday, ‘Family engagement and communication’ was covered. And last week the topics were ‘Waste requirements, disposal and management’ and ‘Coordination of COVID-19 prevention and preparation including stress testing COVID-19 planning’.

Conveniently held at lunchtime and free to attend, the sessions are designed to equip providers with vital information on new and emerging issues from the pandemic. The forum allows for questions from participants.

Recordings will be made available to registrants after the session. Find out more and register.

Support for aged care workers

We want to again thank all the aged care workers and support staff who are doing a fantastic job to protect older Australians and maintain quality care during the challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Alison McMillan this week encouraged health care professionals to look after one another and access the support that is available. Workers can access the COVID resources and support on the Head to Health website.

Financial support includes:

  • The Government’s SACWIC Grant opportunity includes a specific stream of funding for providers to ensure workers will not be disadvantaged as a result of the single site arrangements. This will minimise the risk of infection for workers and residents.
  • The Government’s third workforce retention bonus payment for direct care workers (employed as at 30 November) is further recognition of how valued your work is. This workflow chart explains who qualifies and how the payments are calculated.
  • Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is support for workers in some states where you can't earn an income because you must self-isolate or quarantine at home, or are caring for someone with COVID-19

These financial measures are on top of the surge workforce teams, infection control training and PPE supplies, to help support you at work.

Please make sure you are utilising all the support available and please reach out for help if you need it. Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan said this week, 'it is a strength in calling out and saying that you are finding it difficult to deal with this situation, and to seek out the help that is necessary'.

NACER briefing pack for workers

This National Aged Care Emergency Response briefing pack for aged care workers has been updated. This pack answers questions for workers who redeploy to aged care facilities affected by COVID-19. 

VACRC marks 7 weeks in operation

In its first 7 weeks of operations, the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre has worked at rapid pace to deploy much-needed resources and expand operational capacity as part of its robust effort to stabilise Victoria’s residential aged care sector.

With 170 outbreaks in Victorian aged care facilities to date, the work of the Response Centre has seen the number of ‘Category 1’ facilities fall to zero from a high of 13 in early August. In addition, there were 119 facilities on the Response Centre’s ‘Category 2’ list of facilities at risk, which this week has reduced to only 3.

Executive Officer of the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, Joe Buffone, says 'Our mission has always been the safety and care of residents, the safety of staff, and to stabilise a complex system through unification of effort'.

Read the full media release.


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