Protecting Older Australians: COVID-19 update 4 December 2020

What’s new: survey on the surge workforce program, 2020 Aged Care Workforce Census, updated South Australian guidance, Webinar reminder – visitor access and resident movement.

Date published:
Health sector

From next week, the Protecting Older Australians: COVID-19 Update will become a weekly newsletter and will be released towards the end of the week.

Today’s edition contains information on an upcoming survey on COVID-19 affected services that utilised the surge workforce program.

There is also information on the 2020 Aged Care Workforce Census. Residential, Home Care Package and Commonwealth Home Support Program providers across Australia will be contacted from 7 December 2020 to participate in the census.

The newsletter contains an updated direction from the South Australian Government, and a reminder on the visitor access and resident movement webinar.

Again we encourage you to share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams. And encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can also view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter.

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

Survey on the surge workforce program

The Department will shortly be conducting a survey seeking feedback from COVID-19 affected aged care services that utilised the surge workforce program since commencement in April 2020.

This is a lesson learning exercise and feedback provided will be used to improve future surge workforce strategy and deployments to best meet the needs of providers and their residents.

The Department will contact relevant aged care services directly with information on how to access the survey.

2020 Aged Care Workforce Census

The Department of Health has engaged Forms Administration to conduct the next census of aged care providers to track the sector’s workforce.

Residential, Home Care and Commonwealth Home Support Programme providers across Australia will be contacted from 7 December 2020 to participate in the census.

The 2020 Aged Care Workforce Census is about building an evidence base for the aged care system that works for industry, for the workforce, and most importantly, our older Australians.

The aims of the census are to:

  • Give aged care providers, the Australian Government, researchers and the community a clearer picture of the current make-up of the aged care workforce
  • Update data from the last census in 2016 to inform future policy and decisions
  • Allow providers to compare their personnel’s characteristics (including age, working arrangements, education and training) against the broader aged care sector to inform workforce planning.

A skilled and professional aged care workforce is critical to providing quality care to older Australians.

We encourage providers to participate so that the Government will have access to reliable up-to-date data when considering reforms to the sector, including in response to the Royal Commission’s report.

The reference period for the census will be the last fortnight in November 2020.

We recommend completing the census prior to Christmas, however it will be open for submissions until 15 January 2020. An analysis of the census results will be made publicly available in 2021.

For further information or assistance contact or phone (02) 4403 0640.

Updated South Australian guidance

The South Australian Government has issued a new direction, Emergency Management Residential Aged Care Facilities No 16 (COVID-19).

Key changes in this Direction include:


  • Everyone onsite in a RACF (excluding residents and children under 12 years) must wear a face mask (covering mouth and nose) at all times when in the physical presence of other people. However, the requirement for this to specifically be a single use surgical mask has been removed (a surgical mask still needs to be worn by staff as part of standard and transmission-based precautions, however, other people on site now have the option to wear a cloth mask, if appropriate).
  • In addition, the Direction now sets out the circumstances in which masks do not need to be worn:
    • if the wearing of a mask will hinder the provision of the relevant care and/or impact resident safety or wellbeing
    • by a person who is affected by a relevant medical condition, including problems with their breathing, a serious condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition
    • in circumstances where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication, such as to enable communication by or with any person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

Visitor register

  • All RACFs must maintain a register at point of entry in which all visitors, volunteers, visiting healthcare professionals and contractors record their name, telephone number, date and time of the visit and departure, and resident/area of the RACF visited.
  • Whilst not compulsory, these register requirements could be satisfied by the use of an approved contact tracing system, being the COVIDSAfeCheckIn, ScanTek or any other electronic platform approved by the State-Coordinator for the purpose of capturing relevant contact details (including the use of a QR code provided by the State Government).

RACF definition

The definition of a RACF has been clarified to include the aged care portion of a Multi-purpose Service (MPS) and regional hospitals providing State funded residential aged care beds.

Webinar reminder – visitor access and resident movement

Join the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) and the Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) for a discussion on mitigating risk to enable visitor access and facilitate aged care residents’ movement, and stress testing COVID-19 outbreak plans. These free webinars have been developed for all Australian aged care staff responsible for implementing operational requirements.


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