COVID-19 Victorian residential aged care facilities - advice line
Many residential aged care facilities find themselves with staff, visitors or residents who are a primary close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Using the Victorian Department of Health’s guidelines, the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) will be operating a line to provide advice on managing primary close contacts in a residential aged care facility.
When should I call?
You can call the VACRC if your residential aged care facility is exposed to a COVID-19 primary close contact and you need advice on what to do next.
The VACRC will be operating this line between 8am-6pm (AEDT), seven days a week.
Phone: 1800 041 182
Or you can email: VACRCOps@health.gov.au.
Support in the event of an outbreak
Residential aged care providers need to remain alert and prepared for a potential outbreak of COVID-19 at their facilities. In the event of an outbreak in aged care, Australian Government Department of Health Case Managers will be allocated to support the Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF). The Case Managers will work with the RACF to ensure:
- Workforce capacity
- Application of infection prevention and control measures
- Adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Waste procedures are in place
- Communication with family and friends associated with the RACF residents.
The department encourages you to be familiar with the measures you should have in place at all times to prevent and prepare for an outbreak and how to identify and manage an outbreak in residential aged care.
Please visit our website for information and resources to assist in preparing and managing a COVID‑19 outbreak, including what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak in a residential aged care facility.
If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your facility, please immediately advise the Victorian Government Public Health Unit firstname.lastname@example.org and the Australian Government Department of Health *agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au.
* Under the Privacy Act 1988, information provided to the Australian Government Department of Health should be de-identified and should not include personal or private information that can identify a resident or staff member, such as an individual’s name, address, date of birth or contact details. It should also not include information about a resident’s movements or passing.
Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant
The COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension will reimburse eligible aged care providers for staffing and eligible expenditure incurred in managing direct impacts of COVID‑19 between 28 May 2021 and 31 March 2022. The Program will assist Residential Aged Care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program and Home Care Package providers that are subject to direct COVID‑19 impacts, to deliver continuity of safe quality care for consumers.
The program supports costs for:
- additional or replacement staff
- personal protective equipment
- onsite testing
- cleaning and infection control
- waste management
- travel and accommodation.
To apply or find out more information about this grant visit the GrantConnect website and search for GO4863 COVID‑19 - Aged Care Support Program Extension.
If you need assistance please phone 02 6289 5600 or email Grant.ATM@health.gov.au.
Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID‑19
The Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) Grant Opportunity is designed to support eligible aged care providers with eligible costs associated with implementing Single Site working arrangements. This is one of many infection control measures which can help to limit transmission of COVID‑19 and these arrangements remain in place across all of Victoria until further advice is provided by the Department.
The SACWIC grant opportunity remains open until 31 December 2021. Examples of eligible workforce costs under SACWIC are those that will support eligible workers:
- who normally work at multiple residential aged care facilities, but will be working solely at the facility being applied for.
- who are not to work because they have been experiencing COVID‑19 symptoms, have been diagnosed as COVID‑19 positive, require testing or are subject to self-isolation or quarantine requirements.
- to undertake training in the event a skills gap arises from where existing workers are not to work due to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or are subject to self-isolation or quarantine requirements.
- To apply or find out more information about this grant visit the GrantConnect website and search for GO4215 and search for Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID‑19.
If you need assistance please phone 02 6289 5600 or email: Grant.ATM@health.gov.au.
Rapid antigen test kits available
Rapid antigen testing is proving highly successful in screening staff and visitors for COVID‑19 with results in 15 minutes. Screening staff and visitors before entering an aged care environment, such as a residential aged care facility, minimises the risk of an outbreak.
The Australian Government encourages all eligible aged care providers in high risk Victorian LGAs to implement rapid antigen test screening as an additional layer of protection for senior Australians who are more vulnerable to COVID‑19, and as a tool to ultimately protect your residents and workers.
Importantly, the use of rapid antigen testing will complement, and will not replace, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Any positive rapid antigen test result will require staff to isolate and for the test to be confirmed by a follow‑up PCR test in a laboratory.
The Rapid Antigen Testing kits are available for residential aged care (including MPS and NATSIFAC), home care, services delivered through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) who operate or have staff who live or work in a high-risk LGA.
Identified high-risk LGAs in Victoria include:
- Greater Melbourne: Brimbank, Casey, and Cardinia, Darebin, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Port Phillip, Whittlesea, and Wyndham.
- Greater Victoria: Mitchell Shire, Mildura.
Eligible providers can order online via the Rapid Antigen Testing Order Form.
Aged care providers are asked to ensure they have a sufficient supply of PPE, to use their own supply of PPE first and to request extra supply for emergency purposes as and when needed.
The Commonwealth is prioritising requests for PPE from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need. The deployment of PPE is only where commercial supply is unavailable, and where there is a government direction regarding COVID-19 PPE requirements or demonstrated clinical need.
If you urgently need PPE and cannot source it, please submit an online application. The application will need to be completed for your request to be considered.
Support for senior Australians
In addition to strengthening protection for residents and supporting aged care providers and workers, the Australian Government continues to support all senior Australians receiving Commonwealth-funded supports, including through wellbeing checks, grief and trauma counselling, support for families, and advocacy services through the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).
A dedicated, free call support line (1800 171 866) continues to operate, supporting the mental health of senior Australians and their families impacted by COVID‑19.
The My Aged Care Contact Centre is also equipped to respond to the needs of senior Australians, including through emergency care packages and food parcel delivery if required.