Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information via this newsletter.
This edition includes a friendly reminder about the new information available to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, as well as information about the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s provisional approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Australia and the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine.
Updated national visitation guidelines for RACFs are contained in this edition. Providers are strongly encouraged to read the guidelines. There is also information on participating in the online workshops that will be held as a part of the national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia. This edition also includes information on trauma supports and information on grief supports that are now available to the aged care sector.
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.
Reminder: new information to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out
Earlier this week we published new information—a readiness toolkit—on our website for residential aged care facilities to prepare your facility, workers and residents for COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Residential aged care facilities should familiarise themselves with this information and start planning.
We encourage you to share this information, particularly around consent, with your residents and their families, carers and loved ones.
In addition to the readiness toolkit, more information is available on our information for aged care providers, workers and residents page.
Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisional approval of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine
A second COVID-19 vaccine, by AstraZeneca, has been granted provisional approval by the TGA for use in Australia for people 18 years and older.
This means the vaccine has met the TGA’s rigorous standards for safety, quality and efficacy.
You can learn more about COVID-19 vaccines on our website.
Pfizer vaccine doses arrive in Australia
More than 142,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have arrived at Sydney airport. This is the first shipment of 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine the Government has secured for Australia.
Other COVID-19 vaccine resources
- Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt’s statement on ensuring senior Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19
- Translated information in 64 languages about the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is updated regularly on our website.
- Information about COVID-19 vaccines for people with disability and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is also available on our website.
- Subscribe to receive the COVID-19 Vaccines Updates on our COVID-19 vaccines website.
Keep up to date with trusted information
OPAN Vaccination Webinar
The Older Persons Advocacy Network is bringing together an expert panel to discuss consent for COVID-19 vaccination and how people can be supported to make informed vaccination decisions.
Register here for this free and online webinar on Tuesday, February 23, at 11:30 AM Australian Eastern Daylight Time.
Trauma support is now available online for the aged care sector
Phoenix Australia, one of the organisations delivering trauma support to the aged care sector, has created an aged care specific resource website.
It offers information and tools to support those who have had traumatic experiences, and trauma recovery resources for carers and aged care providers.
The website currently contains information for:
- Older people, families, and carers: including information on trauma, grief, loss, dementia, and how to help an older person affected by trauma.
- Aged Care Workforce: including information on wellbeing and self-care for staff, and information on how to provide trauma-informed care.
- Aged Care Managers: including information on wellbeing and self-care for staff, and a Webinar on identifying and managing trauma within the aged care sector.
The resources will continue to expand, and we will notify you as they develop.
Translated content to help you share information about grief supports for aged care
The Department is creating resources to help you share information about the grief and trauma supports for aged care, and will provide more information on where to find downloadable content and how to order printed resources for your facility.
The Department has arranged for an initial round of radio and editorial scripts that have been shared with SBS radio and ethnic media.
They are available here for your use:
- The radio ad has been published in 10 languages (including English).
- The editorial has been published in 64 languages (including English).
We encourage you to share this content to assist in the promotion of the program to ensure those who require the support know how to access it.
We’ll be in touch as future resources and Communications products become available.
Updated visitation guidelines for RACFs
Updated advice on visitation for residential aged care facilities (Visitation Guidelines) during COVID-19 has been released. The updated advice includes information on the prevention of deconditioning of residents in residential aged care facilities during COVID-19.
Guidance on single site workforce arrangements and types of visitors has also been provided, with an emphasis on the importance of Essential Care Persons on supporting the wellbeing of residents.
Providers are strongly encouraged to read the guidelines. They are designed to support the aged care sector to boost preparedness at the provider, local, state and national level.
Certain jurisdictions may have more specific requirements/arrangements in place based on their relative risk profile. Providers should stay up to date with the directions in their State or Territory as many are now being revised.
Updated VIC restrictions for aged care facilities
From 11:59pm 17 February 2021 Victoria has returned to COVIDSafe Summer restrictions. These are in place across Victoria.
A person is not to enter a Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF) if they:
- Are not wearing a fitted face mask.
- Are unwell of have mild symptoms of COVID-19
- Are required to quarantine or isolate (including if they have attended an exposure site)
- Have arrived in Australia from overseas in the last 14 days
- Have been at a hotel quarantine site or port of entry in the last 14 days.
There have also been changes to visitor restrictions, Visitors are permitted in the following circumstances:
- One household may visit a resident once per day for a maximum of one hour for any reason
- Support visits are limited to one visitor once per day for one hour
- 2 square metre rule applies in communal spaces
- Essential care limited to one visitor at a time with no limit
- Behavioural support limited to one visitor at any one time
- Interpreters limited to one visitor at any time
- End of life support limited to two visitors at any one time
- Family of a resident who is a minor limited to one person at any time.
RACFs must continue to minimise workers working at more than one site as much as practicable and all workers must wear surgical masks at all times.
See the Enhanced COVIDSafe Summer Residential Aged Care Facilities factsheet for further information on restrictions in residential aged care facilities.
Advice for Aged care workers providing services in the community – Home Care Packages (HCP) and Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP)
- All workers should continue to wear face masks at all times. Eye protection (such as face-shields) are no longer routinely required. Tier 3 PPE (including P2/N95 masks) is required for staff when they are providing care to those who are symptomatic, suspected or confirmed to have COVID.
- There are no restrictions on reasons to leave home or requirements to stay within a 5 km radius. This includes travel for visiting or providing support for clients.
- Face to face services can resume, where it is safe to do so. However, standard precautions should be maintained, including hand hygiene, wearing a surgical face mask at all times and physical distancing where able.
Aged Care Providers are also reminded to stay up to date with advice and Directions on the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services website and to check for these updates regularly.
Update: Support for aged care workers in COVID-19 grant activity period for greater Melbourne is now closed
The availability of the Australian Government grant funding to support implementation of single site workforce arrangements has ended as of 17 February 2021 in line with the removal of Greater Melbourne as a Commonwealth Hotspot.
Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) Grant funding is available to providers for out of pocket costs incurred for the activity period of 13 February to 17 February 2021. Providers may now apply for
SACWIC funding for this activity period via Grant Connect until the grant closes on 30 June 2021.
The safety of residents and workers in residential aged care is the highest priority and the Commonwealth continues to encourage providers to limit their workforce mobility where possible.
Updated NSW directions to aged care providers for visitors and staff
NSW Health advice for aged care providers has been updated as at 18 February. Providers are encouraged to read the directions in full.
- The latest advice for RACFs in NSW can be found here.
- The latest advice for home care providers in NSW can be found here.
The key messages for this update are:
- Continue to restrict access for people who have been to Victorian venues of concern (Case alerts – public exposure sites) and including the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn, at the dates and times listed.
- There are no longer restrictions on people who have been to other locations in Victoria.
All staff and visitors must wear a surgical mask inside the facility.
Updated WA directions to aged care providers for visitors and staff
WA Health has advised that Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions No 6, have been revoked, see here.
This means that Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions No 4 (which can be found here ), now apply to all of Western Australia.
National review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian RACFs - online workshop registration now open
Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly have been commissioned by the Department to undertake a national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities.
The review will examine lessons learnt from the management of COVID-19 outbreaks and identify critical factors which could reduce the risk of future outbreaks of COVID-19 and increase the likelihood of rapid detection and timely response to COVID-19 or any other infectious disease outbreaks.
The review is not service specific, instead drawing general conclusions from providers’ experiences, including those who managed to contain the spread within services. The review will provide recommendations to Government on how preparedness and responsiveness to potential future outbreaks may be supported, monitored and evaluated.
The team are seeking a cross section of representatives from Residential Aged Care Approved Providers to contribute to this work, through participation in a series of online workshops.
The workshops will be undertaken in the first and second weeks of March and will provide an opportunity to inform the review and its recommendations. Each workshop has fifty places and is scheduled for 2.5 hours during the specific dates below:
- Mon 1 Mar: 9:30 to 12 pm
- Tue 2 Mar: 1 pm to 3:30 pm
- Wed 3 Mar: 9:30 to 12 pm
- Wed 10 Mar: 9:30 to 12 pm
In order to access a range of views and perspectives, each Approved Provider should only nominate one (preferably an executive member) person to attend, who can represent the views of the Approved Provider.
Participants can register here.
Should you have any queries with regard to the workshops, please feel free to email us at: email@example.com and we will get back to you.
The workshops will complement online surveys (coming soon) which will be directed to the RACF-level and a series of interviews with providers which are already underway.
We look forward to your support in this endeavour and thank you for your ongoing commitment to people living in residential care.
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – Clinical governance requirements for COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – Consent guidance material for residential aged care
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – Consent process flowchart for residential aged care
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – Planning checklist for vaccination day in residential aged care facilities
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – Site readiness checklist for COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care
- Form: COVID-19 vaccination – Consent form for COVID-19 vaccination
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – After your COVID-19 vaccination
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – Information on COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – What to expect on COVID-19 vaccination day at your residential aged care facility
Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – Preparing for COVID-19 vaccination 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.