Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 Update 5 August 2021

In this issue: Residential Aged Care worker COVID-19 Vaccination in regional NSW, NSW Health - Update; Qld Updated fact sheet and Support for Senior Australians as COVID-19 restrictions continue.

Date published:
Health sector

Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information via this newsletter.

Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams and encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can 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.

Residential Aged Care worker COVID-19 Vaccination in regional NSW

On 28 July 2021, the NSW Government announced Pfizer doses would be redirected from state-based vaccination sites in some rural and regional areas to south west and western Sydney in order to vaccinate Year 12 students in the LGAs most affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak. Further information on this can be found on the NSW Health website.

This redistribution should not affect a worker’s ability to be vaccinated ahead of the 17 September 2021 deadline for mandatory vaccination.

Please note the following when communicating with your workforce:

  • GPs will continue to supply Pfizer vaccinations in regional NSW as their supplies from the Commonwealth Government remain unaffected by this reallocation. AstraZeneca remains available from GPs, NSW Health clinics and a number of pharmacies
  • Residential aged care workers are prioritised for Pfizer vaccinations, irrespective of age, at all primary care clinics and should have an appointment allocated to them within 7 days of their request
  • The Commonwealth vaccine service providers and PHNs are working together to plan the delivery of in-reach clinics and static vaccination hubs at which workers can receive a first and/or second dose
  • Additional Pfizer is being provided for GPs, Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to prioritise vaccines for residential aged care workers
  • NSW Health has provided an assurance that those who have had a first Pfizer dose will receive their second dose

Hubs in the following locations are opening shortly. Residential aged care facilities will receive direct communication about how staff can book into these.

  • Umina
  • Mayfield
  • Port Macquarie
  • Morisset
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Cessnock
  • Port Stephens
  • Taree
  • Glen Innes
  • Kempsey
  • Casino
  • Armidale
  • Narrabri
  • Grafton
  • Ballina
  • Inverell
  • Gunnedah
  • Tweed Heads

Additional local vaccine hubs are coming on line and residential aged care facilities will receive direct communication about how staff can book into these.

NSW Health – Updated advice

The screening advice for residential aged care facilities and home care service providers has been updated for 4 August 2021.

The key messages for this update include:

  • There are new requirements for staff working for aged care home service providers, as of 4 August they have the same surveillance testing requirements as residential aged care facility staff living or staying in :
    • Canterbury-Bankstown LGA and City of Fairfield (Fairfield LGA) and Cumberland City (Cumberland LGA), need to have surveillance testing every 72 hours
    • other LGAs in Greater Sydney do not require regular surveillance testing to go to work. Only staff who are working more than 50 km from Greater Sydney are required to be tested every 7 days.  
  • The restrictions for Orange, Blayney and Cabonne have been removed.
  • Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia remain affected areas with close and casual contact places of high concern.
  • Exclude visitors who have been to the Queensland areas of concern, except those providing essential caring functions or for end of life care
  • Until further notice, staff who have been to the Queensland areas of concern since 21 July 2021, must self-isolate until they receive a negative test and have a test every 72 hours after that.

This information can change rapidly so please check the NSW Health website at least daily for updates.

Qld Updated fact sheet – Testing of asymptomatic RACF workers in Brisbane and Sunshine Coast

Australians living in aged care are among those most vulnerable to becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19. Stopping this virus from spreading into aged care facilities is our top priority. Testing gives health authorities the chance to find people with COVID-19 who are working in aged care, before they appear unwell. This will help health authorities identify where community transmission is occurring, before there are COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Australian Government, in consultation with Queensland Health, is supporting asymptomatic testing of staff in residential aged care facilities in Greater Brisbane and Sunshine Coast regions. Residential aged care services in these areas will be contacted to be offered in-reach testing for aged care workers. Services in hotspot locations will be prioritised. Please see the updated fact sheet for the latest information.

Support for Senior Australians as COVID-19 restrictions continue

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck has issued a reminder that senior Australians affected by ongoing lockdowns can access vital support services to ensure they stay socially connected and maintain their health. You can read the Minister's full statement.

Aged care services remain open and available to those who need them, especially for isolated Australians.

The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line 1800 171 866 is an important first step for any older Australians who need support or assistance.

The Australian Government has funded the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) to help deliver education, information and advocacy services for senior Australians and their families. This extends to making information accessible for residential aged care residents and their families in areas most affected by lockdowns.

OPAN also offers a Wellbeing Check service to ensure the provision of emotional or social support, particularly for those people who have reduced or cancelled home care services due to pandemic concerns, this is available to both Home Care Package or Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) recipients.

Senior Australian COVID-19 support numbers and advocacy services

  • Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line - 1800 171 866
  • Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement - 1800 22 22 00
  • My Aged Care Contact Centre - 1800 200 422
  • Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) - 1800 700 600

A translation and interpreter service is available to access the above numbers. Senior Australians who require an interpreter can call 131 450, select the language they speak and provide one of the COVID-19 support numbers to access the information in their own language.

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