Preparedness advice and guidance over the festive season
The Department Health and Aged Care would like to thank you for your ongoing commitment and service to older Australians, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we all celebrate this special time of the year,please continue to follow the key COVID-safe behaviours:
- do regular RATs to screen for infection
- wear a mask if indoors and when visiting older people to help slow potential infection
- wash your hands frequently
- stay up to date with vaccinations and
- stay home if you feel unwell or test positive to COVID-19.
If you are organising a family lunch or dinner, consider having it outdoors. Being in the open air reduces the likelihood of someone with COVID-19 spreading the infection to others.
For aged care providers, continue to be vigilant and prepared:
- regularly test staff and visitors with a RAT prior to entry
- regularly check the current advice for your jurisdiction
- regularly check PPEon hand and that you have enough for at least 7 days.Consider how delays in supply chain deliveries can impact delivery of quality care
- residential aged carehomes that are unable to secure PPE through commercial supplychains and are in a current outbreak or managing an exposure, canrequest PPE, including emergency PPE supplies via the COVID-19Support Portal.
- regularly review your workforce contingency plans to ensure you have coverage
- residential aged carehomes in outbreak needing temporary surge workforce can contacttheir local Department of Health and Aged Care state office onceall other attempts to access staff internally or through agencyworkforce have been unsuccessful.
- follow up with residents on any outstanding pre-assessments for COVID oral anti-virals and facilitate access as soon as possible once prescribed
- if you need assistance accessing a prescriber, consider HealthDirect’s free helpline 1800022 222 or Service Finder www.healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services. Your Primary Health Network may also be able to assist connect you to a local prescriber.
- follow up with staff and residents on vaccinations and boosters when due
- report all COVID-19 cases through the My Aged Care Provider Portal
- let staff know that if they do test positive to COVID-19 they should not attend work for at least 7 days or until they no longer have symptoms.
If you do experience an emergency event, going through your preparation steps will help lessen the effect and impact on your service and home. Emergency planning is also a requirement for aged care providers. More information and resources on preparing for and handling other emergency events to ensure service continuity in aged care is available on our website and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
The preparedness checklist supports the continued delivery of safe and quality care for care recipients over the Christmas and New Year period.
Department of Health and Aged Care - operational hours over the holiday period
The Department of Health and Aged Care will be operating with a limited workforce from 3pm AEDT Friday 23 December 2022 until Tuesday 3 January 2023.
Department of Health and Aged Care – State office contacts
If you require assistance to access Commonwealth support for outbreaks over the holiday period, please contact your relevant Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care State Office via the contact details below.
Please only call if you have a genuine emergency that must be resolved immediately, for example there is risk to the safe care of residents including if your home must evacuate or has been cut off and is running low on essential supplies.
A majority of Government supports, such as emergency PPE supplies and RAT kits, can be requested via the My Aged Care Provider Portal.
For all other matters, including case management requests please email us and we will respond as soon as possible.
|ACT||ACTCOVIDcasemanagement@Health.gov.au||1800 852 649|
|NSW||NSWCOVIDCaseManagement@Health.gov.au||1800 852 649|
|NT||NTCovidCaseManagement@Health.gov.au||1800 355 348|
|QLD||QLDCovidCaseManagement@Health.gov.au||1800 300 125|
|SA||SA.COVIDsupport@Health.gov.au||1800 288 475|
|TAS||VICTASCaseManagement@Health.gov.au||1800 078 709|
|VIC||VICTASCaseManagement@Health.gov.au||1800 078 709|
|WA||WA.COVIDsupport@Health.gov.au||1800 733 923|
Emergency provisions for home care recipient respite care
Residential respite care can support older people and their carers for short periods this holiday season, including during natural disasters where the usual care arrangements are not available. If a residential respite service is taking on a Home Care Package (HCP) care recipient, some things they need to know include:
- HCP recipients may take leave from their package while on residential respite
- opting for residential respite over a permanent entry ensures the care recipient does not lose their HCP for when they wish to return to home. Otherwise, they have 56 days to return to the HCP Program
- if a HCP care recipient needs to extend their residential respite stay due to extenuating circumstances such as waiting on house repairs after a natural disaster, residential care providers are reminded to extend the respite entry by contacting the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). Where the entry is nearing expiry:
- residential providers must submit an Application for Care form including the emergency case application within 5 business days to the ACAT
- if the provider needs an extension to the 5 business days to submit the emergency case application, they must contact their ACAT
- following receipt of the application, the ACAT will contact the provider to schedule theassessment
- delegates can decidethat exceptional circumstances justify making an approval decisionfrom the date the person urgently entered care.
Find out more about the emergency provision processes in the provider manual or on the department’s website.
Extension of the shelf life of COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment Lagevrio® (molnupiravir)
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved a 12-month shelf-life extension for Lagevrio® (molnupiravir), from 18 months to 30 months.
Aged care providers can now use tablet bottles for the batch numbers belowup to the revised ('new') expiry date, provided that approved storage conditions of storage below 30 °C have been maintained.
Batch Label printed Revised (‘new’)
|Batch number (LOT)||Label printed expiry date (EXP)||Revised (new) expiry date (EXP)|
Prior to this 12-month extension, the shelf-life of Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) was 18 months when stored below 30 °C, and this previous expiry date (of 18 months) is what appears on batches of Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) product labels (see above table). The labels associated with the specified batches above have not been amended to reflect the extended expiry date (of 30 months), however these batches can be used up to the revised (‘new’) expiry date.
12 December 2022 Webinar – Top 3 questions
We thank you for continuing to tune in to our regular aged care COVID-19 updates. Our final webinar for 2022 was held on Monday, 12 December. We look forward to resuming the webinars and talking to you all again in the new year. The top 3 questions from our last webinar included:
Question 1 - Is there reimbursement available for surveillance RAT testing of staff?
Approved residential aged care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP), and Home Care Package providers may be eligible to apply for theCOVID-19 Aged Care Support Program (GO4863).
The COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program (GO4863)reimburses providers for additional eligible costs incurred in managing a direct impact of COVID-19 during an eligible impact period upto 31 December 2022.This includes labour, PPE, equipment and waste removal. Aged care providers are responsible for costs associated with surveillance activities.
Question 2 – Do we have to continue to wear a mask?
Given current levels of community transmission, mask wearing remains a key protection against COVID-19 transmission, particularly when coupled with other items of personal protective equipment.
We understand that wearing a mask for long periods is difficult not only for staff but also on your residents, especially those where English is a second language or there is a hearing impairment.
The type of mask that is used should be guided by a risk assessment. Where the risk assessment is determined to be low, you could consider the use of a surgical mask but where the risk assessment is determined to be high, it is recommended N95 masks are used.
Question 3 - If a staff member continues to test positive following 7 days isolation but is asymptomatic, can they return to work?
Aged care providers should follow the CDNA guidelines and any PHU guidance. If staff are still testing positive after 7 days, questions about safely returning to work should be directed to the public health unit or the staff member should consult their GP. If a someone has a residual positive test after 7 days, they may still be at risk to other people and a PCR test may be recommended.
- The ‘First 24 hours’ checklist to help residential aged care providers and staff to manage the impact of a COVID-19 positive case or outbreak in the first 24 hours.
- Managing a COVID-19 outbreak in residential aged care to guide you on what you must do if an outbreak occurs.
- Managing home care through COVID-19
- The Department has developed a range of posters and social media tiles for aged care providers to use this festive season.
- The Industry Code for Visitation in Residential Aged Care Facilities provides detailed advice on how to support safe visitation.
- The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) can provide residents and their families with free, confidential aged care advocacy services and information: 1800 700 600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission COVID-19 provideresources, including:
Your state or territory has the latest information on the COVID-19 requirements in your region, which are also provided in the links below: