Protecting Older Australians: COVID-19 Update 21 October 2020

What’s new: updated directives for Victorian aged care workers, update on VACRC early warning system, living well in the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health support for aged care workers.

Date published:
Health sector

Today’s newsletter contains information on the updated directive for residential aged care workers in Victoria. Also included is advice that the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) Early Warning System will cease from 22 October 2020 and will be replaced by a coordinated program of COVID-19 testing of aged care workers.

As restrictions are easing in NSW and Victoria, and more people are beginning to move about in the community, we’ve included a timely reminder and some resources to help older Australians take a risk based approach to deciding which social outings to attend.

Mental health support continues to be a focus, as we remind our aged care stakeholders of available digital and telehealth resources provided by the Department. We have also included a flyer developed by Beyond Blue with mental health support options, that can be shared with staff, residents, families and friends.

Again we encourage you to share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce and encourage them to subscribe for future updates.

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.

Updated directives for Victorian aged care workers

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued updated directives for workers and providers of residential aged care in Victoria.

The new aged care worker directive includes details on mobility restrictions for workers who have worked at an outbreak site or restricted zone and information on access restrictions for workers and visitors, templates for the Worker Declaration and the Visitor Declaration are available for you to use. Information is also included on asymptomatic testing of aged care workers and requirements on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The full updated directive for Victorian workers can be found on the DHHS website.

Update on VACRC early warning system 

The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) COVID-19 Early Warning System (EWS) will cease operations from 22 October 2020.

The system was designed to identify COVID-19 infections early through a voluntary notification process. However, in its current form, the EWS is not an accurate way to provide early detection.

A coordinated program of COVID-19 testing of aged care workers is being introduced across Victoria. This process will serve as a form of early warning for the presence of infection in facilities.

Please note, you must still notify positive COVID-19 test results, immediately by email to

Living well in the COVID-19 pandemic

As restrictions are easing at different rates in NSW and Victoria, older Australians are reminded to take a risk based approach to social outings. It is recommended that older Australians consider their own risk factors, along with the number of COVID-19 cases in their area, and assess what activities are important to them and how much risk those activities carry.

Resources are available to support these decisions, including a Living Well in the COVID-19 Pandemic’ document, along with a COVID-19 Action Plan that can help you manage risks as you move about.

Mental health support for aged care workers

While the pandemic has changed so much about the way we live and work, maintaining good mental health is very important, particularly so for workers in aged care. There are a range of resources available to support the aged care workforce.

Resources include the Department’s ‘Head to Health’ site, which can help you find digital mental health services from some of Australia’s most trusted organisations. It brings together apps, online programs, online forums, and phone services, as well as a range of digital information resources.

Digital and phone support for mental health during COVID-19 has been strengthened with a number of digital and telehealth support services, including for vulnerable people and those with severe and complex needs.

Beyond Blue has produced a flyer detailing the support they can offer during COVID-19 which can be printed and displayed on notice boards for the residents and staff, and emailed to the families and friends of residents.


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