Advice and resources for aged care workers

This information is for and about aged care workers.

When you must not go to work

As a residential or in-home care worker, you are providing an essential service to some of our most vulnerable Australians.

To keep care recipients safe, do not go to work if you have:

  • been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, unless you were wearing personal protective equipment
  • a fever
  • a symptom, even a minor symptom, of respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion)
  • not had a 2020 flu vaccination, though exemptions apply in some states and territories
  • returned from overseas in the past 14 days
  • travelled in the past 14 days as a cruise ship passenger or crew member.

Let your employer know if you have any of the symptoms listed above and need to quarantine at home.

Testing

It is important to detect COVID-19 in aged care workers as early as possible.

You are eligible for COVID-19 testing if you are an aged care worker and develop fever or respiratory symptoms.

Your doctor will confirm whether you need a test, and will arrange it if you do.

Residential aged care facilities are high-risk settings. Staff (and residents) will also be tested if there are 2 or more people with fever and respiratory symptoms in the facility.

Sonic Healthcare does priority sample collection and testing for suspected cases of COVID-19 in residential aged care facilities, including for staff.

If you are in Victoria, there is testing of asymptomatic workers to help the sector drive down case numbers and keep them down.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Wear appropriate PPE (gown, mask, protective eyewear and gloves) if you:

  • will be exposed to body fluids or very contaminated surfaces
  • are caring for someone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19.

Remove your PPE before leaving the room or the person’s home. Wash or sanitise your hands straight after removing PPE.

Make sure you keep up to date with the PPE guidance in your state or territory. You can expect this guidance to change depending on the number of cases in your local area.

For more information about using PPE:

Aged care providers can request PPE by submitting an online application through the Department’s Consultation Hub.

Delivery of home care services

As an in-home care worker, you are providing an essential service to some of our most vulnerable Australians. To support this:

  • home care services should be delivered with all the necessary precautions in place
  • providers should maintain continuity of service
  • care workers and providers should all stay connected.

Avoiding exposure to COVID-19 is the single most important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To protect those in your care, please ensure that you:

  • practise and encourage good hand hygiene
  • cough into your elbow or a tissue and dispose of tissues straight away
  • wear PPE when required
  • keep 1.5 metres away from home-care recipients and Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) care recipients if you are not providing direct care duties.

You should continue using standard precautions to prevent infection with all people in your care at all times. Standard precautions include hand hygiene before and after every episode of physical contact. You will need to take extra precautions should there be a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 among the people in your care.

Entry restrictions for residential aged care

Each state and territory have directions about entering residential aged care facilities. The directions give effect to the recommendations of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, endorsed by the National Cabinet.

Residential aged care providers, including staff and visitors to aged care facilities, must stay up‑to-date with their state or territory directions.

We strongly recommend routine screening on entry of all staff and visitors for all residential aged care facilities, regardless of size or location. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission provides guidance on the screening processes you can expect at your service.

Flu vaccination

Residential care

If you are a residential aged care worker, health practitioner or volunteer entering a residential aged care facility, you must have had a flu vaccine to work. Exemptions apply in some states and territories.

All Australian Government subsidised residential aged care providers must offer staff and volunteers free access to annual flu vaccinations. This is at the provider’s cost.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook provides details on health conditions that indicate caution in receiving the flu vaccine.

Staff members with written medical advice that they are not able to be vaccinated should:

  • wear a surgical mask while at work during the flu season
  • if possible, review their work duties to avoid close contact with residents.

You should never attend work if you have any respiratory symptoms, even if they may be side effects from the flu vaccine. Get more detail on the flu vaccine.   

Home care

It is not compulsory for in-home aged care workers to receive the flu vaccine to continue working. However, we strongly encourage all staff and volunteers to have the flu vaccine if it is available to them. Being vaccinated against the flu protects staff and care recipients who are more vulnerable to serious complications from the flu.

Accessing support

The Government has instituted a number of supports for aged care workers. Details on these measures are available on the Government support for providers and workers page.

Workers with visa work restrictions

New visa arrangements are available to support the aged care workforce. Aged care providers can temporarily offer more hours to international students to help ensure the continuity of care of older Australians.

These changes apply to both residential and home care.

These are temporary measures designed to address any staff shortages caused by COVID-19 to ensure we support workforce continuity across the aged care sector in case a large part of the workforce is unable to work. Providers will ensure all staff are adequately trained.

For further information about this temporary measure and what you need to do to access these new arrangements, please contact the Department of Home Affairs on 131 881 or email SVCR [at] homeaffairs.gov.au.

Resources

Publications and fact sheets

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers

A collection of resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers, about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Webinars

Online training

A 30-minute online module – COVID-19 infection control training – is available for care workers across all health care settings. It includes training specific to aged care.

Other training modules include:

  • personal safety
  • families and visitors – residential care
  • families and visitors – in-home care
  • COVID-19 and aged care
  • outbreak management procedures
  • PPE
  • laundry
  • if you suspect a person has COVID-19.

These modules take 5 to 10 minutes each. You will receive an acknowledgement of completion certificate for each module.

This training is hosted on an external site, provided by our COVID-19 training partner Aspen Medical.

Register now

Staying informed

We have an aged care COVID-19 newsletter called ‘Protecting Older Australians’ with up to date advice on COVID-19 matters in aged care. To stay up to date on aged care and COVID-19:

Your local public health agency will have more information on the latest advice and resources for your state or territory.

Australian Government WhatsApp channel for COVID-19

Join our COVID-19 WhatsApp channel to learn the latest on Australia's response to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you're already a WhatsApp user you can send a message to the channel to connect. If you don't have WhatsApp, download the app to join the channel.

Coronavirus Australia app

Stay up to date with official information and advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. You can check your symptoms and get notified when urgent information and updates are published.

Last updated: 
8 February 2021

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