Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 update 21 January 2022

In this issue: COVID-19 vaccination boosters in residential aged care facilities, Benefits of a COVID-19 booster vaccine for senior Australians, Managing COVID-19 cost and Update from the ACT Chief Health Officer

Date published:
Audience:
Health sector

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

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.

COVID-19 vaccination boosters in residential aged care facilities

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck together with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson, have issued a joint letter to residential aged care providers to personally encourage all aged care residents and staff to get their COVID booster vaccination.

There are several options available for approved providers to access boosters for residents and staff:

  • Commonwealth in-reach vaccination clinics
  • self-managed clinics by providers
  • local health service in-reach vaccination (where available)
  • individual resident GPs or onsite primary care clinics
  • through community pharmacies.

You are encouraged to read the letter from Minister Colbeck and Commissioner Anderson and share with your residents and staff.

Benefits of a COVID-19 booster vaccine for senior Australians

We have published a fact sheet for aged care residents, their families, loved ones and decision makers about the importance of getting a booster, or third dose vaccination.

The Department has deemed it essential that booster uptake increases in response to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, particularly for senior Australians.

Please share this fact sheet with residents, family members, loved ones and decision makers of a senior Australian in aged care.

Support with costs managing COVID-19

Through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863), providers will be supported with additional eligible costs of managing the direct impact of COVID-19. The grant reimburses providers for additional eligible costs including:

  • increased staffing costs in a facility with residents/clients who are infected or isolated due to COVID-19
  • increased costs to replace existing staff who are infected or isolated due to COVID-19
  • the purchase of additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs)
  • the purchase of additional products and services to manage cleaning and infection control
  • equipment and resources
  • waste removal costs.

For more information please see the Grant Opportunity Guidelines (Grant Opportunity – GO4863) and the regularly updated frequently asked questions available on GrantConnect.

Update from the ACT Chief Health Officer – 18 January 2022

To support ACT residential aged care facilities (RACFs) to manage their COVID-19 exposure and outbreaks, ACT Health has developed new online resources to provide facilities with public health advice and guide them through the steps they should take following a COVID-19 exposure or outbreak.

This resources package is available at Managing COVID-19 exposures and outbreaks in residential aged care facilities – COVID-19 (act.gov.au). The advice on this webpage will be updated regularly, please always refer to the webpage for the latest public health advice for managing a COVID-19 exposure or outbreak in a RACF.

Key changes across the ACT:

  • From 5 January 2022, people who have tested positive to COVID-19 are responsible for identifying and contacting people they may have exposed during their infectious period, including advising their workplace if they worked during this time.
  • Any identified contacts should follow the recommendations for high, moderate or low risk contacts which are available on the 'Information for people exposed to COVID-19' section of the ACT COVID-19 website.
  • As of 8 January 2022, people with a positive RAT result will no longer be required to have a PCR test at an ACT Government testing clinic to confirm that they have COVID-19. As of 12 January, people who have recorded a positive RAT are able to notify ACT Health directly of this result through the ACT COVID-19 website.

You can read the full message from the ACT Chief Health Officer.

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