Date published: 
3 July 2020
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s edition includes an important reminder for all providers to be ready to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak. New resources are now available to support providers prepare for an outbreak. This includes specific guidance for Victorian home care and residential providers as well as guidance for all providers on what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak.

Also included in today’s edition are new FAQs on the workforce surge measures available to aged care providers during COVID-19 as well as an overview of the social supports that have been made available for senior Australians during COVID-19.

We also remind providers that the closing date to apply for the workforce retention bonus payment is 20 July 2020, and encourage you to submit your applications as soon as possible.

Thank you for all the work you are doing to protect senior Australians and for the essential care and services you are providing during this challenging time.

Support for Victorian aged care services

Aged care providers located in areas of Victoria where there is an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases are currently facing increased challenges. Thank you for the work you are doing to protect senior Australians and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We encourage you to test your outbreak management plan and infection control protocols to prevent and minimise the spread of COVID-19. For residential aged care providers this includes implementing screening of staff and visitors entering the facilities.

It is critical that all providers actively promote the importance of infection prevention to staff, residents and visitors. This includes good hand hygiene, coughing etiquette, cleaning and disinfecting and maintaining social distancing.

Aged care workers are reminded not go to work if they are feeling unwell, even if experiencing very mild symptoms, and to be tested for COVID-19. This will protect them, other workers, residents, care recipients and the broader community.

To support residential aged care providers the national guidelines for infection prevent and control have been recently updated.

A new fact sheet is available that steps out what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak at a residential aged care facility.

In addition, new resources prepared by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are available to support Victorian residential and home care providers to be ready and alert to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Victorian services that have a COVID-19 case must immediately contact the Victorian Public Health Unit (PHU) on 1300 651 160 and the Australian Government Department of Health by emailing: agedcareCOVIDcases [at] health.gov.au.

In the event of an outbreak, the Australian Government Department of Health, Victorian Office, will appoint a case manager who can assist with:

  • provision of PPE through the National Medical Stockpile
  • testing through Sonic Health Care (residential only)
  • workforce surge in the event that you need additional or temporary replacement staff.

If you need emergency support you can contact the Australian Government Department of Health, Victorian Office, on 1800 078 709.

Workforce surge FAQs

Workforce surge is available if you experience a COVID-19 outbreak. The department has engaged 4 organisations to support providers to access surge workforce.

Workforce accessed through these arrangements will be funded by the Australian Government either upfront or providers will be able to seek reimbursement of costs via the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Grant Program.

The Aged Care Workforce Support FAQs have been updated to reflect the full suite of workforce surge options available.

Workforce Retention Bonus Payment

With only 2 weeks to go, a reminder to lodge your applications for eligible staff for the Aged Care Workforce Retention Bonus Payment by 20 July 2020.

Information regarding this grant opportunity can be found on the GrantConnect website. To prevent delay in processing, please ensure that you attach the Staffing Profile Spreadsheet that is available on the GrantConnect website.

Further information can be found in the FAQs for providers and agencies and for aged care workers.

For any provider enquiries on the application please submit your question by email to grant.ATM [at] health.gov.au.

Social support for senior Australians during COVID-19

The mental health and wellbeing of senior Australians is a priority during this time. There are a range of supports available and providers are reminded to encourage care recipients to access these if they are feeling isolated, worried or need someone to talk to.

  • Community Visitors Scheme
    A Community Visitors Scheme that supports senior people who may be feeling more isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic through phone and virtual friendships.
  • The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line – 1800 171 866
    A dedicated free call support line that provides information and support to senior Australians, their families and carers.The support line operates Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) from 8:30am to 6pm.
  • Friend Line telephone support service – 1800 4  CHATS (1800 424 287)
    Friend Line offers a free and anonymous telephone service that provides senior Australians with the opportunity to chat with a volunteer. The services is available 7 days a week between 10am and 8pm.
  • Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service – 1800 512 348
    A free 24/7 support service specifically designed to help people through the COVID-19 pandemic offered by Beyond Blue.

Wellbeing checks are available over the phone to senior Australians who have elected they may need some extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The wellbeing check service is available to all home care and CHSP recipients, not just those who have paused their services.

To help senior Australians stay in touch with friends and family:

  • Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) service providers funded to provide Social Support activities can use grant funds to purchase IT including tablets, smart devices and internet subscriptions
  • free webinars are available through the Be Connected program to help improve the online skills of senior Australians

Resources

Coming soon

  • Provider perspective on outbreak management
  • Survey for providers on communications during COVID-19