Protecting older Australians: COVID-19 update 31 July 2020

What’s new: Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, update on PPE in Victoria, expanded visitation restrictions and PPE requirements in New South Wales and resources for residents with cognitive impairment.

Health sector

Today’s edition includes information on the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre set up to coordinate and expand resources to tackle the challenge of COVID-19 in aged care services.

Information for Victorian aged care workers on the use of face shields, as well as surgical face masks, is also included. This edition also provides updated advice for providers in New South Wales on measure to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into your residential facility or home care service.

Thank you to all providers and especially those in Victoria who continue to support our senior Australians, during this critical time.

Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support can contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

Victorian Aged Care Response Centre

The Australian Government is establishing a Victorian Aged Care Response Centre to coordinate and expand resources to tackle the challenge of COVID-19 in age care services.

The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre is bringing together Australian Government and state government agencies at the State Control Centre in Melbourne in a coordinated effort to manage the impact of the pandemic across facilities.

Supported by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Victoria, Emergency Management Australian (EMA) and Emergency Management Victoria (EMV), the response centre will offer a scalable and coordinated response mechanism as we continue to respond to the pandemic.

In addition there will be stakeholder liaison arrangements with Older Persons Advocacy Network, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the Australian Medical Association, Leading Aged Services Australia, Aged and Community Services Australia, the Aged Care Guild, Seniors Australia, Dementia Australia and Council Of The Ageing.

Read the Minister for Aged Care’s announcement of the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre.

Update on personal protective equipment in Victoria: face shields

In addition to the requirement for all Victorian aged care workers to wear face masks, aged care workers in Victorian residential aged care facilities are now advised to wear face shields as a precautionary measure.

Single use face shields are being distributed from the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) to all residential aged care facilities in Victoria. Facilities will be directly contacted by delivery providers to receive the allocated face shields over the coming days, with priority distribution to Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and face shields is vital in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Face shields are designed to cover the sides of the face and below the chin. Face shields may be reusable or disposable, and are worn together with surgical masks.

You can read the Minister for Health’s announcement on face shields.

Read guidance on the use of face masks and shields by health care workers in areas with significant community transmission of COVID-19.

Read ICEG guidelines on cleaning and disinfection of face shields, noting the NMS is currently dispatching single use face shields.

Expanded visitation restriction and PPE requirements in New South Wales

Given the current risk of COVID-19 now in the community, NSW Health has extended requirements for face masks and visitation restrictions across new local government areas.

The state’s Chief Health Officer has added the local government areas of Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick and the eastern part of City of Sydney to the list of regions required to implement the following measures:

  • Any visitors to any residential aged care facility who have been in the following local government areas in the previous 14 days should be excluded from the facility: Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, eastern part of City of Sydney, Parramatta, Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly.
  • All aged care staff who reside in the above local government areas or a New South Wales/Victorian border community must wear a surgical mask while in the facility.
  • Staff and visitors who have visited any of the locations on the same date as a COVID-19 case (see updated list of venues and dates) should be excluded for a period of 14 days since their visit to the listed location.
  • All residential aged care staff who work in residential aged care facilities located within the above local government areas and in communities along the New South Wales/Victoria border must wear a surgical mask while in the facility.
  • Residential aged care facilities in the above local government areas should not allow any visitors (visitors performing essential caring functions may be allowed but must wear a mask). In exceptional circumstances, seek advice from your local NSW Health public health unit on 1300 066 055.

The extension of these local government area restrictions will be in place until further notice. 

Home care service providers who either live or work in any of these designated local government areas must also wear face masks while providing services.

Read the New South Wales Chief Health Officer’s letters to home care providers and residential providers.

Resources for residents with cognitive impairment

During COVID-19, people with cognitive impairment may find hospital even more frightening than usual.

They may be further disoriented by the use of PPE and find instructions such as social distancing hard to follow. There may be restrictions on family and carers who are usually there to support them.

In recognition of this changed environment, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has developed new resources to support health service organisations to provide safe care for people with cognitive impairment during COVID-19.


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