Date published: 
2 April 2020
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s update leads with an important reminder to let the Department know if you are experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak so that we can provide you with critical support. We have also included information that clarifies the correct use of eye protection in Residential Aged Care Facilities, when used alongside other PPE.

Thank you for your continued support to protect older Australians from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Outbreaks — Available Assistance

The Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are here to assist providers in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. It is critical that you urgently advise us if you have any confirmed cases of either residents/care recipients or workers in your facility, service or program.

Once you have advised us of any confirmed cases the Government can quickly assist with:

  • PPE
  • Staff Supplementation and reimbursement

Please email agedcareCOVIDcases [at] health.gov.au and we will be in touch promptly to discuss options for support.

This information will also be communicated to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to enable ongoing actions to ensure that aged care providers are supported in providing safe, quality care during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Wearing Eye Protection in Residential Aged Care Facilities

There has been some uncertainty within the Aged Care sector about when workers should wear eye protection.

The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) has provided advice specific to Residential Aged Care Facilities as follows:

  • When caring for an asymptomatic resident in quarantine, contact and droplet precautions should be observed (PPE includes a gown, surgical mask, protective eyewear, and gloves), though eye protection is optional. Protective eyewear can be in the form of safety glasses, eye shield, face shield, or goggles.
  • If the resident later becomes symptomatic/is a confirmed case of COVID-19, staff contacts not wearing eye protection should not be quarantined as close contacts if all other precautions had been observed and they remain well, unless direct contact with respiratory secretions had occurred (i.e. a splash injury to the face).

Training for aged care workers on the use and wearing of PPE is now available through the eLearning program.

Register and access the training module

If you would like to access the aged care training, users will need to register their workplaces as ‘aged care’. If you have already registered for online training but not with ‘aged care’ as your workplace, email support [at] covid-19training.gov.au for a priority response.

Investment in Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) Services

On 29 March 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced $10M to be provided to the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS), to further support older Australians who may be experiencing increased social isolation with social distancing and visiting restrictions.

The CVS is a free service that has provided friendship and companionship to isolated Australians for nearly 30 years. The scheme matches a volunteer visitor with isolated senior Australians who are accessing the aged care system.

The scheme is run across all states, with over 13,000 volunteer visitor places each year for those accessing residential and home care, including an LGBTI CVS service in 4 states fostering intergenerational friendships within the LGBTI community.

With social isolation increasing as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are more vulnerable older Australians accessing aged care services who are at risk of becoming lonely, posing potential risks to their mental health. The CVS is continuing during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on telephone and virtual friendships where face to face visiting isn’t possible because of social distancing restrictions. Please refer those in your care who may be isolated to CVS by contacting the CVS network member in your state or territory. For LGBTI CVS services in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland or Western Australia, contact one of the LGBTI CVS members.

The CVS scheme is continuing to accept volunteer registrations at this time. For more information, head to the department's website

Flu Vaccinations for Aged Care Workers

The Department has released further information to assist residential aged care providers to understand the entry restrictions to aged care facilities that related to 2020 influenza vaccinations.

The Frequently Asked Questions document can be found on the Department's website.

Resources

Training modules

Five modules are available for completion as part of the Department of Health’s eLearning program for Aged Care workers. The training includes Personal Safety, Families and Visitors, Outbreak Management and PPE.

Register and access the training modules

Fact sheets

All Aged Care fact sheets that are publicly available on the Department of Health site are being updated to reflect recent announcements. Thank you for your patience while these updates are processed.

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