Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s edition reminds providers of the need to ensure the contact details for each resident’s authorised representative are up-to-date, secure and readily available to key staff at residential aged care facilities. This is essential preparedness for effective communications.

The Department of Health has published new guidance on the use of face shields, which are now a requirement in aged care settings in Victoria.

This edition also provides a summary of the increased restrictions now in force for aged care services operating in both New South Wales and Queensland, as due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in both jurisdictions.

Thank you to all providers and our wonderful aged care workforce, 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 should contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

Prepare your communications

Residential aged care facilities are being reminded of the need to have up-to-date contact details for the authorised representative of each resident living within the facility.

As a part of your ongoing preparedness to manage a potential case of COVID-19, it is important that correct contact details, including a mobile telephone number and email address, are held for the primary contact of each resident. These details should be readily available to facilitate prompt and regular communication with residents’ families in the instance of a COVID-19 case being linked to the facility.

It is recommended you contact all authorised representatives to ensure the contact details you hold are appropriate, and to remind them that they will be the primary contact should the facility need to communicate with families about a COVID-19 case or outbreak.

Authorised representatives should be encouraged to share the information they receive directly from providers about their loved one’s health and wellbeing with wider family and friends.

Training on face shield use

The Department of Health has published a new guide on face shield use. 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.

When worn together with a properly fitted surgical mask, face shields offer protection from contamination to others, as well as to the wearer.

The training guide on face shield use contains instructions on how to safely put on and take off (don and doff) a face shield, as well as cleaning and disinfecting instructions.

Providers are reminded, however, that the face shields being distributed from the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) to all residential aged care facilities in Victoria are single use.

Updated restrictions and advice from Queensland

Increased restrictions have been put in place for residential aged care facilities in Queensland. All residential aged care facilities, no matter where they are located must have a workforce management plan in place that makes it mandatory for employees to:

  • tell their residential aged care facility employer of any other places of employment
  • tell their residential aged care facility employer if a COVID-19 case is identified at their other workplace.

Due to recently announced cases in Queensland extra restrictions have now been put in place for residential aged care facilities in:

For visitors:

  • no personal visitors, including care and support visitors are allowed to enter
  • only persons providing an essential purpose will be allowed to enter
  • end-of-life visits will still be allowed
  • anyone entering a facility must wear a single use surgical face mask.

For residents :

  • cannot leave the residential aged care facility unless they are receiving health care, attending a funeral or for an emergency or for compassionate reasons
  • the residential aged care facility or the Chief Health Officer can provide an exemption for leave on compassionate reasons.

For staff:

  • residential aged care facility operators must make sure staff do not work across multiple facilities as much as possible
  • anyone providing medical care (including staff, volunteers or family members) must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance with Australian Government and state government guidance.

Read the Queensland advice.

Updated restrictions and advice from New South Wales

The state’s Chief Health Officer has advised all New South Wales aged care facilities must ensure:

  • there is an infection control lead or champion at the facility
  • staff are well trained and can demonstrate competency in infection prevention and control, particularly use of PPE
  • sufficient stocks of PPE are held on site.

The local government area of Bankstown has also been added 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: Bankstown, 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/VIictorian 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.

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.

View the latest New South Wales Health advice for residential providers and home care providers.

Reminder – notify the Australian Government Department of Health

All aged care service providers are reminded that you must immediately notify the Australian Government Department of Health of any COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.

Email the Department of Health at agedcareCOVIDcases [at] health.gov.au.

This notification is essential for the activation of Australian Government support, including rapid access to PPE from the National Medical Stockpile, case management, surge workforce support and supplementary pathology testing.

This notification to the Department of Health is in addition to notifying your Public Health Unit.

For more information on COVID-19 outbreak preparedness and management, refer to the CDNA National Guidelines.

Resources

  • The ‘6 steps to stop the spread’ resource is available to remind aged care workers, families and visitors of the simple things they can do to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in residential aged care facilities.