Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 update 22 April 2022

In this issue: Winter Preparedness webinar, COVID-19 winter dose program in residential aged care, Upcoming webinar for providers, Grant opportunity for aged care workers and Ventilation strategies to reduce COVID-19 transmission in residential aged care facilities.

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.

Recording available – Winter preparedness webinar

The Department is hosting a series of free webinars to help aged care providers to prepare for, respond to and recover from viruses such as influenza, as well as continuing to respond to the threat of COVID-19.

The first webinar was held on Wednesday 13 April 2022 and is now available to watch on demand: Preparing your aged care service for winter – readiness. The session included a moderated Q&A session with Departmental officials along with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner.

Enhanced preparation within the sector and continued response capability will make sure senior Australians continue to receive safe and quality care as aged care providers face the impacts from potential winter outbreaks. You can find more information on preparing for the winter season in the following resources:

New resources – COVID-19 winter dose program in residential aged care

To support residents and their family members, a new fact sheet on the COVID-19 winter dose vaccination program in residential aged care is now available in 20 languages.

This fact sheet provides information on the Australian Technical Immunisation Advisory Group's (ATAGI) recommendation of an additional (winter) dose for residents and other vulnerable groups at risk, when and how residents can access a COVID-19 winter vaccine dose, and on the co-administration of the COVID-19 winter vaccine dose and the annual flu vaccination.

ATAGI advises that COVID-19 winter doses can be administered at the same time as the annual flu vaccination. It is an individual’s choice as to whether they choose tor receive both vaccines at the same time.

Posters are also available for residential aged care facilities to download, print and display to promote the COVID-19 winter dose program.

REMINDER: Webinar on upcoming changes to provider reporting on resident and workforce COVID-19 vaccination

All aged care providers are invited to a live, free webinar on Wednesday 27 April 2022 from 1.00pm – 2.00pm AEST on upcoming changes to the mandatory reporting requirements on resident and workforce COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Department is making improvements to the reporting template for providers' weekly reporting on resident and workforce COVID-19 vaccination rates. The changes will better support facilities to report accurately on their resident and worker vaccination status and to capture the winter dose status of aged care residents.

All aged care providers are required to use the new reporting template from Tuesday 3 May 2022 via the My Aged Care provider portal.

To support providers with the transition, the webinar will walk through the changes made to the template, and include a Q&A session to answer any questions you may have regarding the new functionality.

Online resources will also be available to assist you to transition to the new reporting data sets, including step-by-step user guide and factsheets.

Date: Wednesday 27 April 2022

Time:
ACT, NSW, QLD, TAS and VIC – 1:00pm to 2:00pm
NT and SA – 12:30pm to 13:30pm
WA – 11:00am to 12:00pm

How to join
Webinar – join using your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Join link:
https://health-au.webex.com/health-au/j.php?MTID=mb0c5b67cc35dabe5911d8beb7622b5cb

Webinar number: 2652 912 1517

Webinar password: 9876 (9876 from phones)

Join by phone: +61-2-9338-2221 Australia Toll
Access code: 265 291 21517

This webinar will be recorded and available on the department's website for on demand viewing.

Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 grant opportunity

Applications for the Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) Grant Opportunity close at 2pm AEST on Thursday 30 June 2022.

The SACWIC grant opportunity reimburses eligible approved providers for eligible out of pocket expenses associated with implementing single site worker arrangements during the COVID-19 hotspots and high-risk locations listed in Appendix 1 of the Grant Opportunity Guidelines.

Examples of eligible workforce costs under SACWIC are those that supported eligible workers:

  • who normally work at multiple residential aged care facilities, but worked solely at the facility being applied for during the Activity period
  • who did not attend work because they had been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, had been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive, required testing or were subject to self-isolation or quarantine requirements during the Activity period 
  • to undertake training in the event of a skills gap where existing workers were not able to work due to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or were subject to self-isolation or quarantine requirements during the Activity period.

Applications for the SACWIC grant opportunity close at 2pm AEST on 30 June 2022.

Completing your SACWIC grant application

To apply, complete the online grant opportunity application form available on GrantConnect (Grant Opportunity GO4215). You will need to address all eligibility criteria and include all necessary attachments. Please see the Grant Opportunity Guidelines (version 22 published on 15 December 2021) and responses to frequently asked questions (version 9 published on 21 December 2021) for more information.

If you need help or have questions that are not covered in the frequently asked questions, please email your enquiry through to Grant.ATM@health.gov.au (reference GO4215).

Victorian Department of Health – Use of Air Scrubbers

The Ventilation strategies to reduce COVID-19 transmission in residential aged care facilities guidance provides Victorian residential aged care facilities (RACFs) with information about infection prevention and control (IPC) measures that can be used to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by improving ventilation and airflow. RACFs should be familiar with this document and the various IPC measures it covers, including use of air scrubbers.

Air scrubbers should be used as part of ventilation and air-cleaning strategies in the event of an outbreak or exposure.

Supply of Air Scrubbers

In the event of an outbreak or exposure, providers should arrange their own hire or purchase of air scrubbers as follows:

  • Private RACFs who are an outbreak site can hire or purchase air scrubbers through private providers.
  • Once hired or purchased, facilities can seek reimbursement from the Commonwealth Government Department of Health through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863).
  • Under this grant opportunity, services with a confirmed COVID-19 case that incurred costs for air scrubber / air purifiers during an eligible impact period can claim reimbursement as follows:
    • Reimbursement for the full cost of hire of air purifiers / scrubbers during the impact period.
    • Reimbursement of 50% of the cost of purchase of air purifiers / scrubbers (for each item), up to a maximum of $1000 per item.
    • The full price of the device will not be reimbursed in acknowledgement that the device will become an asset owned by the provider.
  • RACFs are encouraged to research the supply of air scrubbers to ensure that they are able to arrange supply in the event of an outbreak or exposure.

In emergency circumstances where RACFs cannot arrange their own air scrubbers, facilities can request access through the Victorian Department of Health. All facilities must first attempt to source air scrubbers through their head office or other commercial channels prior to submitting a request through their Local Public Health Unit.

Where an air scrubber is provided for emergency outbreak management, the equipment will be leased for a 2 week period to the RACF. RACFs cannot transfer the equipment to any other campus without approval from the Victorian Department of Health.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Victorian Government's Aged Care COVID team on agedcareCOVIDpreparedness@health.vic.gov.au if you have any questions.

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