Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 update 19 May 2022

In this issue edition: Leadership and , for RACFs webinar, Winter preparedness webinar series, Pulse Oximeters for home care clients and NSW Health guidance.

Date published:
Health sector

Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information.

The Prime Minister has announced a 21 May 2022 federal election and as such the Department of Health is operating in accordance with the caretaker conventions.

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 as well as other announcements for the aged care sector on the department's website.

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.

Recording available – Leadership and Governance for RACFs webinar

On 11 May 2022, the Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission hosted a joint webinar on leadership and governance for residential aged care facilities (RACFs), including a presentation of case studies that are useful to inform planning and on how to and embed these concepts at the forefront of an outbreak. The session also included a moderated Q&A session with Departmental officials along with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner.

A recording of this webinar is now available to watch on demand: Leadership and governance for RACFs in a COVID outbreak.

Winter preparedness webinar series

The Department is hosting a series of free webinars to help aged care providers to prepare for, respond to and recover from winter viruses such as influenza, as well as continuing to respond to the threat of COVID-19.

The first webinar was held on Wednesday 13 April 2022 and is available to watch on demand: Preparing your aged care service for winter – readiness.

The second webinar, will focus on how to respond to outbreaks, and is planned for Thursday 2 June 2022 from 1pm (AEST). The session will include panellists from the Department of Health along with Craig Gear from the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).

Continued preparation and response capability in the sector will ensure senior Australians continue to receive safe and quality care as aged care providers face the impacts from potential winter outbreaks. We will provide the registration link and further details for this upcoming webinar shortly, through our newsletter and the Department's website.

Pulse Oximeters available for home care clients

The RACGP’s Home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19 provides information for general practitioners (GPs) who are providing care for patients that have tested positive for COVID-19 but are not deemed to be high risk for severe disease or hospitalisation. The Guidelines note that patients at higher risk of complications may benefit from using a TGA-approved pulse oximeter to self-monitor oxygen saturation (SpO2) to track their symptoms at home. Consideration should be given to the following points:

  • Before recommending or issuing a pulse oximeter, GP's should consider whether patients will be able to use one effectively. A pulse oximeter reading of <92% is considered to be a red flag.
  • GPs should also provide patients with advice on how to use their pulse oximeter, and how and when to report the results. Oxygen saturation and other symptoms should be recorded twice daily in a symptom diary. The RACGP’s guide for consumers Managing COVID-19 at home with assistance from your general practice provides further information for consumers on how to use their pulse oximeters.
  • A free allocation of pulse oximeters can be provided to general practices from the National Medical Stockpile, using the Living with Covid PPE order form available from the local Primary Health Network (PHN). Depending on your jurisdiction, pulse oximeters may be issued to some patients from their local hospital. They are also available for purchase at most pharmacies.

NSW Health – updated guidance

The NSW Health Department has published a Guidance for Residential Aged Care Facilities on the public health management of Acute Respiratory Infections (including COVID-19 and Influenza) (ARI Guidance) detailing 9 key steps in managing incidents from Acute Respiratory Infection presentation in a resident to managing an outbreak of COVID-19 or influenza. This document will replace the previous NSW Health documents:

  • Public Health Actions – recommended guidance following a RACG COVID-19 outbreak of exposure
  • COVID-19 Guidance to support risk assessment of workers, residents and visitors in Residential Aged Care
  • NSW Flu-Info Kit.

Appendix 2 of the ARI Guidance, RACF COVID-19 risk assessment for single or known exposures, provides guidance in assessing the level of risk for staff, residents and visitors following exposure to COVID-19. It also provides advice on testing regime and isolation requirements, the Chief Health Advice has been updated to reference this latest advice. You can find further information for RACFs in NSW on the NSW Health website.

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