Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 update – 25 November 2022

Read the latest update to the aged care sector and register for the upcoming COVID-19 webinar.

Health sector

Webinar - aged care COVID-19 update

The next webinar will be held on: 

Friday 2 December 2022, 2.30pm - 3.30pm (AEDT).

In this session you will hear key messages on the latest COVID-19 variants and current wave, screening processes for visitors in the lead up and over the festive period, and how to deal with the potential compounding impacts of COVID-19 and other emergency events.

As we continue see an increase in outbreaks, a reminder that a range of Australian Government supports remain in place, including access to personal protective equipment (PPE) through the My Aged Care Provider Portal, additional surge workforce where needed, and onsite PCR testing (in addition to weekly delivery of rapid antigen test kits).

Please register to attend.

This session will also include a moderated Q&A session with Departmental officials, and we encourage you to submit questions in advance through the registration link.

Message from the Ministers to Aged Care Providers

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler and the Minister for Aged Care, the Hon Anika Wells, have written to aged care providers to personally thank them for their role in protecting older Australians during COVID-19.

The Ministers are encouraging providers to continue to stay alert and remember the key steps to keep yourself and others safe this festive season.

Please remain vigilant and maintain COVID-19 safe behaviours:

  • do regular rapid antigen tests (RAT) to screen for infection
  • wear a mask if indoors to help slow infection
  • wash your hands frequently
  • stay up to date with vaccinations
  • stay home if unwell or COVID-19 positive.

You can read the full message from the Ministers.

Video message from the Senior Australian of the Year

Visiting older Australians in aged care homes, hospital or their own home is a great way to boost health and wellbeing. Hear from Val Dempsey, 2022 Senior Australian of the Year and St John Ambulance volunteer, on taking extra care when visiting older loved ones while COVID-19 is still around. If you’re feeling unwell, stay home and reschedule. Watch Val's message and we encourage you to share the video with your networks.

Reminder: Reporting of aged care residents and aged care staff influenza vaccinations in 2022

Aged care services are reminded to complete the annual influenza vaccination reporting through the online form by 30 November 2022. This report should provide advice on the number of residents and aged care staff who received an influenza vaccination in 2022.

Who needs to report?

  • Residential Aged Care Service – residents and staff
  • Multipurpose Services – residents and staff
  • Transition Care Program services delivered in a residential age care setting – residents and staff
  • Short Term Restorative Care services delivered in residential aged care settings – residents and staff
  • Home Care Package services – staff only.

The annual reporting for 2022 is required on 31 October 2022 and will be collected via the online form until 30 November 2022.

Top 3 Questions from our Webinar on 21 November

Question 1 - Are we still required to report COVID vaccination numbers and how often do we need to update rates in the My Aged Care portal?

All aged care providers are required to report on COVID-19 vaccination status of residents and staff via the My Aged Care provider portal each Tuesday. If there has been no change since your last report, you don't need to enter the same data again. Residential aged care providers must report on the number of residents who have received a single dose only, two doses, three doses (for residents assessed by a health practitioner as being severely immunocompromised), a booster dose or Winter dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

All aged care providers are required to report the number of workers who have received a single dose only, two doses and booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as well as any exemptions to a COVID-19 vaccination under state and territory public health orders that may apply.

Question 2 - With the removal of Public Health Declarations, how does this affect flu and COVID vaccination requirements?

Vaccination continues to be important in managing the risk related to COVID-19 in high-risk settings such as residential aged care. Aged care workers are strongly encouraged to stay up to date with their influenza and COVID-19 vaccination to aid protection against both infection and severe disease for themselves and the people they care for. Some jurisdictions have requirements in relation to worker COVID-19 vaccinations set out in public health orders. Aged care workers and providers should stay up to date with the settings in place in their jurisdiction and note that these settings do change.

Question 3 - What is the advice for health care workers that are close contacts?

If you are a close contact, you should monitor for signs and symptoms and get tested, but you are not restricted from attending the workplace unless you are unwell. All aged care workers, including both residential aged care and workers who provide close personal care to an older person in their home or the community, should not attend work and should stay at home if they have respiratory symptoms to help prevent the spread. Workers who test positive for COVID-19 should not attend the workplace for at least 7 days. Home care and residential aged care providers and staff must adhere to all public health orders and advice issued by the relevant state or territory government, including vaccination and testing requirements, and isolation protocols for close contacts and positive cases.

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