Date published: 
27 March 2020
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Yesterday we launched the first module in a new eLearning program for aged care workers. Overnight more than 1,200 people completed the module which covered the topic of personal safety.

Today’s update includes important information about how and when to use personal protective equipment (PPE).

Information on the use of PPE

Do staff need to wear PPE when providing aged care services to a suspected COVID-19 case who is awaiting test results?

Aged care workers should wear appropriate PPE when they are providing care to suspected case/s of COVID-19 who are awaiting test results in the interim until their test results are confirmed negative (they do not have COVID-19). The appropriate PPE is known as contact and droplet precautions and requires a gown, surgical mask, eye protection and gloves.

If the suspected COVID-19 case is confirmed positive and staff who were in close contact with the client did not use appropriate PPE, these staff will be required to notify their employer and self-quarantine for 14 days.

If the suspected COVID-19 case is confirmed positive and staff who were in close contact with the client did use appropriate PPE, these staff can continue to provide care to the client, and other clients, and do not need to self-quarantine.

What is close contact?

Close contact is defined as meeting either of the following criteria:

  • greater than 15 minutes face-to-face contact in any setting with a confirmed case in the period extending from 24 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed case
  • sharing a closed space with a confirmed case for a prolonged period (for example, more than 2 hours) in the period extending from 24 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed case

Do staff need to wear PPE when providing aged care services to a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case (and the close contact is in quarantine for 14 days)?

Aged care workers do not need to wear any additional PPE, above appropriate contact precautions where required, if they have only been exposed to a close contact who does not have symptoms of COVID-19.

Aged care workers only need to wear additional PPE, known as droplet precautions (including gown, surgical mask, eye protection and gloves) when providing care to a close contact of a COVID-19 case when:

  • the close contact has since tested positive (i.e. is a confirmed COVID-19 case)
  • the close contact has developed symptoms of COVID-19 and is waiting for their test results

Do staff need to wear PPE when providing aged care services when there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the facility they work in but they have not had any contact with this case?

Aged care workers do not need to wear PPE when providing aged care services if they have had no close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in their facility.

Read additional guidelines on the use of PPE when caring for patients in the non-inpatient setting.

If you have any questions about the use of PPE or if you require PPE, please email agedcarecovidppe [at] health.gov.au.

Compliance with Commonwealth and state legislation

Commonwealth and state jurisdictions are collaborating through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to inform Australia’s health responses to COVID-19. This has enabled the development of nationally recommended guidelines for restrictions on entry to residential service. We have adopted the advice of AHPPC in relation to COVID-19 restrictions and issued guidance to help you implement the new provisions.

At the same time, it is noted that in Australia’s federal system of government, the health and emergency management response to COVID-19 is delivered primarily through states and territories.  This means that in addition to the AHPCC advice we provide, you need to follow any particular legislation or guidance issued by your relevant state or territory. While there is broad consistency between various provisions at Commonwealth and state/territory levels, there may be some differences in the way in which these particular matters are addressed in state law.

Resources

We have launched Module One eLearning: Personal Safety of our new COVID-19 eLearning training programme to educate aged care workers on appropriate health management techniques in all aged care settings.

Coming soon

  • Guidance on influenza vaccine
  • Further details accessing the Government’s support packages
  • Updated live FAQs
  • Information about additional support for providers directly impacted by COVID-19
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