Today's newsletter provides information on further funding from the Australian Government to reinforce the aged care sector. An additional $563.3 million will be provided to extend support to the aged care sector to respond to COVID-19.
We have included an update on the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s infection control spot checks as well as updated advice from NSW Health on the wearing of masks and visitor restrictions.
This edition also includes an update on the management of Coronavirus clinical waste in Victoria.
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 on 1800 700 600.
Additional funding to reinforce Australia’s aged care sector
The Australian Government has announced it will provide an additional $563.3 million to further support the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19.
This takes the Government’s support for senior Australians in aged care to over $1.5 billion since the pandemic began.
The package includes an additional $245 million to extend the COVID-19 Support Payment for all residential aged care providers and an additional $154.5 million for a third Workforce Retention Payment based on employment at 30 November 2020.
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission update on infection control spot checks
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is undertaking assessment contacts with residential aged care services through unannounced site visits to services.
The focus of the site visits are to observe at the service infection control defences to prevent transmission and to recognise and respond to symptoms of COVID-19. This is to ensure that everyone is adhering to infection control arrangements including safe PPE protocols.
The site visit is a monitoring visit, not a performance assessment. Where issues or concerns are identified, such as staff not applying correct PPE or adhering to other infection control practices, the Commission will consider further regulatory action to ensure that the provider is meeting their quality and safety obligations.
The Commission will not undertake these infection control site visits with services that have known positive cases of COVID-19.
Find out more about the infection control spot checks.
Managing coronavirus clinical waste in Victoria
The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre is coordinating a cross-government effort to manage a 100-fold increase in clinical waste being produced during Coronavirus outbreaks in some of Victoria’s aged care facilities.
The Response Centre has worked with private industry, the Victorian Government and regulators to secure storage containers, rubbish collection, incinerators and safe disposal and processing of the waste.
The waste increase has been due to the amount of PPE required for staff implementing the increased measures to strengthen infection control. Government agencies have worked to streamline the permit process for both collecting and safely disposing of the waste. Read more on the management of coronavirus clinical waste.
The Victorian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also produced a clinical waste fact sheet to assist providers.
Updated advice from NSW Health
NSW Health has provided updated advice for residential aged care facilities and home care providers regarding the use of masks and visitor restrictions.
Following recent cases in the Sydney, there is a request for residential aged care facilities in metropolitan Sydney, the Nepean Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions to implement visitor restrictions for the next two weeks. In addition, staff who work or live in these areas must wear face masks whilst at work. This temporary requirement will be reviewed in two weeks.
The Australian Government is prioritising Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need.
To ensure PPE from the National Medical Stockpile is effectively prioritised on a needs-basis, providers are being asked to complete a new Aged Care PPE Request Form, please submit an online application. Providers should also continue to try to source the PPE through suppliers while awaiting a response. Providers need to establish an ongoing general PPE supply.