Protecting Older Australians – COVID update 7 March 2022

In this issue: Update on aged care and COVID-19 with the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Ensuring safe visitor access to residential aged care, NSW updates and reminders on training, webinars and clinical waste survey.

Date published:
Audience:
Health sector

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 as well as other announcements for the aged care sector on the department's website.

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.

Update on Aged Care and COVID-19 with the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, invites aged care providers to an update on Aged Care and COVID-19.

The session will be held online on Friday 11 March, 9.00am - 10.00am (AEDT).

Please register to attend. We are aiming to limit registration to one representative per organisation, so please have a discussion within your organisation to nominate an appropriate attendee.

The session will include a moderated Q&A session with the Minister and Department of Health officials and we encourage you to submit questions in advance.

Ensuring safe visitor access to residential aged care – statement from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) recognises the known physical, psychosocial and nutritional impacts on older people if they experience extended periods of social isolation. The Commission has outlined their position on provider responsibilities relating to visitor access in a new fact sheet: Ensuring safe visitor access to residential aged care.

The Commission is committed to the concept of ‘essential visitors’ and is looking for providers to engage proactively with consumers and their representatives (in advance of any COVID-19 exposure or outbreak) to identify these people and ensure that they continue to have access to a service unless a public health order or written public health advice prohibits this. Essential visitors include:

  1. Partner in care – a person who has a close and continuing relationship with the care recipient and provides aspects of regular routine care and companionship
  2. Named visitor – if a resident does not have a partner in care, they may nominate one person to be a named visitor
  3. Visitor at end of life – visits to residents at or approaching the end of life should be facilitated for anyone and not be time limited.

The Commission may take regulatory action where access for essential visitors is not adequately supported.

Webinar COVID-19 Provider Support Portal – recording now available

Residential aged care services now report a resident, worker or visitor COVID-19 case at their service via a new, online COVID-19 Support Portal accessed through the My Aged Care provider portal.

The Department hosted a webinar to guide users through the new reporting process, including how to use the portal and the benefits of moving to a real time, streamlined system. The recording of the webinar is now available: Reporting COVID-19 in residential aged care.

As providers transition to the new portal, there are support and resources to help:

Reminder – Aged Care Emergency and Crisis Management Training Program extended to 30 June 2022

The recent emergency events across the country, including ongoing management of the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to highlight the importance of effective crisis management and decision-making for aged care providers.

Providers are reminded that availability of the online training modules delivered as part of the Aged Care Emergency and Crisis Management Training Program 2021, has been extended until 30 June 2022.

The training retains particular relevance in the context of preparing for and responding to a range of current issues impacting the sector, including:

  • major flooding events across Queensland and New South Wales
  • ongoing Omicron COVID-19 outbreaks
  • the upcoming 2022 influenza season.

Targeted at aged care provider senior leaders, the training can help equip you with the knowledge, tools and confidence to build or strengthen your organisation’s emergency and crisis management capability and assist to better ensure continued delivery of safe and quality care in challenging situations.

The self-paced online modules are available now and are completely free for participants, with over 1,381 registrations to date – register here.

The training continues to be delivered by First 5 Minutes and RiskLogic, supported by funding from the Department.

Aged Care in the post Omicron world – Webinar Series

Leading Aged Care Services Australia (LASA) and the Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) along with representatives from the Department of Health are hosting a series of free webinars to assist providers navigate the changed environment of high rates of vaccination, the impact of the Omicron variant and higher levels of community transmission.

The changes that have now been introduced include new guidance materials and new approaches which mean that the outbreak management plans and responses of providers need to be updated.

The first in the series was held last Friday and you can watch the recording of the webinar, highlighting how the introduction of vaccination, the availability of anti-virals and the experiences through the most recent Omicron wave, have seen the parameters for visitation in residential aged care adjusted considerably.

Upcoming Webinars:
There will be a number of other free webinars in this series that explores Aged Care in the post Omicron world:

  • First 24 Hours Guidance and Response Reaction Planning – Monday 8 March 12:00pm AEDT
  • COVID Workforce Planning – a New Approach – Friday 11 March 12:00pm AEDT
  • A Risk Based Approach of COVID – Wednesday 16 arch 2:00pm AEDT
  • Anitvirals: A new point of difference – Friday 18 March 12:00pm AEDT

Register for free online to attend any of these upcoming webinars: www.lasa.asn.au/events.

Contact LASA on 1300 111 636 or email events@lasa.asn.au with any queries.

NSW Health – updated protocol

The NSW Department of Health advises that the following NSW Health COVID-19 outbreak management documents have been updated:

The Joint Protocol has been updated to reflect the national definitions of an outbreak and exposure as per the CDNA National Guidelines.

The Public Health Actions document has been developed to guide facilities on key actions to take following a COVID-19 exposure or outbreak. It aligns with the CDNA National Guidelines of a ‘least restrictive’ approach and also provides guidance to assist residents and their families in making decisions around isolation in residential aged care facilities following an exposure or outbreak.

Providers and staff are encouraged to become familiar with the documents, and ensure internal resources are updated, including Outbreak Management Plans.

Further information is available on the NSW Health outbreak management webpage.

Victoria – Reminder – Weekly clinical waste survey

This is an ongoing survey which providers are encouraged to complete each week. The information you provide is helping to inform the Victorian Government of clinical waste volumes and waste management constraints across the state to enable appropriate action.

Complete the Clinical Waste Backlog survey.

For more information or assistance in completing this survey please contact waste.emergency@delwp.vic.gov.au.

For more information on the updated guidance for COVID-19 related waste at aged care facilities please contact the Environment Protection Authority Victoria epa.vic.gov.au or phone 1300 372 842.

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