Protecting older Australians: COVID-19 update 19 August 2020

What’s new: communication when a resident tests positive for COVID-19, operational update from the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, South Australia health directions for aged care workers, dementia behaviour support during COVID-19, and dementia training

Date published:
Health sector

Today’s newsletter provides an update on operations at the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC), and new guidelines to help providers with their communications when a resident tests positive to COVID-19.

There is information on directives in South Australia, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and limiting each staff member to work in only 1 facility.

Also included in today’s newsletter is information about dementia behaviour support and training opportunities.

We thank you for your hard work to protect older Australians and encourage you to share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce.

Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 700 600.

Communication when a resident tests positive for COVID-19

Guidance is available to help residential aged care providers and their staff communicate with families in the difficult situation of a resident testing positive for COVID-19.

All residential aged care facilities across the country are urged to prepare their communication system for a potential COVID-19 outbreak. This includes phoning the nominated representative for each resident in your facility to confirm you have their latest contact number(s) and email address.

It is important that nominated representatives understand their obligations to:

  • be contactable
  • pass information on to other family and friends.

Ask if you can share their contact details with government authorities and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). Note that their details will not be used for marketing, but strictly to facilitate assistance to the facility and it’s residents.

Operational update – Victorian Aged Care Response Centre

The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) has issued a statement providing an update on how it is coordinating and deploying resources across the state to protect senior Australians from COVID-19.

The VACRC consists of representatives from more than a dozen federal and state agencies, who are working together to address the unfolding situation in aged care facilities in Victoria.

The Response Centre’s preventive and critical response efforts remain focused on continuity of care for aged care residents, the safety and wellbeing of staff and residents, and increasing communication with residents’ families.

Read the statement with more details on the operational updates.

South Australia health directions for aged care workers

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the South Australian State Coordinator has made a Direction under the Emergency Management Act 2004 to limit entry into residential aged care facilities in South Australia. Read this direction and accompanying FAQs.

Aged care facility visitation

The direction protects residents, staff and others from the risk of transmission of COVID-19, while supporting the rights and wellbeing of residents and their families. The direction states:

  • residents can leave an aged care facility and return for any reason
  • residents of facilities will need to be isolated following a COVID-19 test until the result of that test is known
  • children under the age of 16 years are able to visit, provided that they have had their flu vaccination (babies under 6 months are exempt from the flu vaccination requirement)
  • care and support visits are limited to one visit per day by up to 2 people, however, aged care facilities are now able to approve additional visits where this is appropriate or necessary
  • visitors coming from the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania or Queensland are permitted to visit aged care facilities upon arrival in South Australia. Visitors coming from other states/territories are only permitted to visit within 14 days if they are providing end-of-life support to a resident (and are required to wear PPE and self-quarantine at all other times).

You cannot enter a facility if:

  • you have undertaken a COVID-19 test and are awaiting the test results
  • you have arrived from or have been in Victoria/New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory within the last 14 days
  • you have been a known contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • you have a temperature higher than 38 degrees Celsius, fever, chills or symptoms of acute respiratory infection in the preceding 72 hours
  • you have not been vaccinated against 2020 seasonal influenza (unless you have an approved medical reason or a child aged 6 months or less).

Aged care workforce

From 27 August 2020, operators of residential aged care facilities (RACFs) need to implement a number of changes to the way that employees and contractors at their facilities work, including:

  • restrictions on working across multiple RACFs – all personal care workers are only permitted to work at 1 RACF; if a personal care worker intends to work at a different RACF, there must be 14 days between work shifts at the first and second RACF; at present, these restrictions do not apply to other employees or contractors
  • PPE requirements – a person who provides nursing, medical, allied health or personal care services to residents must wear appropriate PPE, in accordance with government guidance, whenever a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and the resident cannot be maintained
  • training requirements – all employees or contractors who provide personal care or nursing care to residents must complete COVID-19 infection control training of a kind, frequency and by a date determined by the South Australian Department for Health and Wellbeing
  • workforce management plans – All RACFs must have in place a workforce management plan.
  • COVID-19 infection control plans – All RACFs must submit a COVID-19 infection control plan for all communal areas at the facility to the South Australian Department for Health and Wellbeing for approval.

Dementia behaviour support during COVID-19 

Dementia Support Australia (providers of DBMAS and SBRT) has developed advice to help aged care providers deliver the best possible support for people experiencing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia during this difficult time.

See Restrictive practices: understanding and managing behaviours in a time of pandemic.

Dementia Support Australia continues to support all aged care services, whether your home or service is in lockdown or not. Dementia Support Australia’s consultants are still providing face to face visits, or phone or video conference consultations depending on your preference. Call their 24 hour service on 1800 699 799 or visit

Dementia: free, fast information and training

It’s important that the health and aged care workforce feel well informed, safe and educated during COVID-19. To help ensure people living with dementia receive high quality support, Dementia Training Australia has produced 2 new resources:


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