Webinar – aged care COVID-19 update
The next webinar will be held on Thursday 6 October 2022, 2.30pm - 3.30pm (AEDT).
In this session you will hear from Professor Alison McMillan, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, about the new Communicable Disease Network of Australia (CDNA) guidelines for Acute Respiratory Illness (COVID-19 and Influenza).
Please register to attend.
This session will include a moderated Q&A session with Departmental officials and we encourage you to submit questions in advance through the registration link.
Some of your questions answered from recent webinars:
Q: Do visitors to residential care facilities need to undergo a RAT before entry or is this an individual facilities screening process?
A: The current best practice advice from AHPPC is to conduct surveillance screening at least 2 times per week and not more than 72 hours apart for staff, or on entry for each visitor. This should increase to daily testing of staff, visitors and residents during an outbreak.
Q: What is the home care provider's responsibility when a client or a person living in the client's home has COVID-19? Are the in-home services still required to go ahead?
A: Home care providers are responsible for delivering quality and safe care to senior Australians, even during outbreaks of COVID-19. Home care providers must have a COVIDSafe Plan that they review and update regularly.
Q: Can we have a clear summary of the restrictions in each state as they stand today?
A: State Directions are available at the following links:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Northern Territory
ICEG-endorsed resources for infection prevention and control (IPC) - as referenced by Professor Alison McMillan at the last meeting, this collection contains guidance resources endorsed by the Infection Prevention and Control Expert Group (ICEG).
To find more information please visit our website or email us if you have any questions:
Revised CDNA Guidelines and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) update
The Communicable Disease Network of Australia (CDNA) has released new guidelines for acute respiratory illness (COVID-19 and Influenza), the National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of Outbreaks of Acute Respiratory Infection (including COVID-19 and Influenza) in Residential Care Facilities
As the previous guidelines contain valuable information about the management of COVID-19 and Influenza, they will still be available on the Department's website as archived reference documents.
Each RACF should review the new guidelines and their outbreak management plans to make sure that they reflect the latest advice.
All services should check their relevant State or Territory health department websites regularly for any updates to local advice.
IPC training – baseline training for aged care workers
Providers should ensure their workers regularly refresh their IPC skills.
Since mid-2020, the Department of Health and Aged Care has provided free online COVID-19 infection control training modules for health workers, including specific modules for aged care workers. Providers are encouraged to support their staff to access a range of IPC training and resources. Some national and state resources are listed below
- The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care – e-learning modules on the principles of infection prevention and control (free registration required, aged care specific modules)
- VIC Health – IPC Resources, VICNISS IPC resources
- NSW Health – COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidance for aged and residential care
- SA Health –infection control and personal protective equipment (PPS) advice
- WA Health – COVID-19 information for health professionals
- QLD Health – Infection prevention and control guidance (including PPE advice)
Recent IPC announcements and webinars
The Department of Health has released a range of recent advice to support good IPC practices:
- Managing Influenza and COVID-19 in residential aged care
- Leadership and Governance for RACF - webinar
- Winter webinar series
Provider IPC responsibilities
Aged care providers have an obligation to provide safe, effective and quality delivery of personal and clinical care in accordance with the requirements of the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cwth) and the Quality‑of-Care Principles 2014 (Cwth).
Effective IPC practices in each facility are assessed by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission under three of the Aged Care Quality Standards:
- Standard 3, specifically Requirement (3)(g) regarding minimisation of infection control risks
- Standard 7, specifically Requirement (3)(c) regarding the workforce competency and holding relevant qualifications and knowledge
- Standard 8, specifically Requirement (3)(c) regarding effective organisation governance systems, and Requirement (3)(d) regarding effective risk management systems and practices.
Providers must comply with the Quality Standards and that includes taking account other recognised guidance that might be specific to the services they deliver. Updated resources and advice are available on www.health.gov.au and/or from state and territory health departments.
All aged care providers should support their workers to maintain their IPC capabilities. In residential aged care homes, the IPC lead nurse plays an important role in leading this work. Providers should support the IPC lead nurse in their role to provide advice and oversight.
COVID-19 vaccination for aged care residents
Many residents are now eligible for their fourth dose if it has been 3 months since their confirmed COVID-19 infection, or they may be eligible soon.
Residential aged care homes are responsible for supporting residents to access this fourth dose.
Aged care homes can schedule fourth dose vaccinations for residents using the following options:
- through a primary care provider. Primary Health Networks can assist you to connect to local primary care vaccine services if needed
- request a Commonwealth in-reach clinic to vaccinate your residents as they become eligible. You are not required to have a minimum number of residents and vulnerable workers eligible before scheduling an in-reach clinic. Please complete the registration form at: Residential Aged Care COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic - Registration Form - Australian Government Department of Health - Citizen Space
- consider a multi-faceted approach to vaccination that combines Commonwealth in-reach and primary care clinics.
Additional support available under COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863)
The COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant reimburses providers for additional eligible costs incurred in managing a direct impact of COVID‑19.
The Australian Government has announced an additional $831.5 million for the COVID 19 Aged Care Support Program Extension, which will remain open for applications until 31 January 2023. Available funding for the program totals $1.023 billion. Amendments to the Grant Opportunity Guidelines and updated Frequently Asked Questions have been published on GrantConnect.