Rapid antigen testing for aged care

Learn about how we’re protecting the health of senior Australians by providing access to COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) kits for residential aged care homes.

Testing and public health advice

People living in aged care homes are amongst the most vulnerable people in our communities. Under the Aged Care Quality Standards, aged care providers are responsible for minimising infection related risks in each home.

It is important that aged care providers continue to follow current Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidelines and advice to manage the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Using COVID-19 RAT kits to screen aged care residents, staff and visitors for COVID-19 is part of a range of risk management options that residential aged care homes can use. 

Each state and territory government sets the public health restrictions for high-risk settings such as aged care homes. For the latest information on public health restrictions please visit your state or territory health website:

Frequency of RAT use

Public health directions and recommendations change regularly in each state. Providers should regularly check the requirements in their location and include this in their assessment of infection control risks.

It is recommended that surveillance screening of staff and visitors should occur at least 2 times per week and not more than 72 hours apart for staff or on entry for each visitor. During an outbreak, it is recommended this increases to daily testing of staff and visitors.

Supply of RAT kits

The Australian Government is continuing to supply a regular weekly deployment of RAT kits to residential aged care homes through the National Medical Stockpile.

This regular weekly deployment should form part of the recommended surveillance screening of at least 2 times per week and not more than 72 hours apart for staff or on entry for each visitor. During an outbreak, it is recommended this increase to daily testing of staff and visitors.

An additional provision is also supplied to allow testing of residents during an outbreak, noting that PCR testing is preferred and can be arranged.

The volume of RAT kits allocated are based on outbreak status and the number of staff, residents and visitors expected at the aged care home.

Aged care providers can email agedcarecovidliaison@health.gov.au to request removal from the dispatch list.

Visitors can use their own RAT kits prior to their visit and may be asked to provide evidence of their test result.

It is inappropriate for homes to charge for the use of RAT kits provided by the Australian Government through the National Medical Stockpile.

Support for managing COVID-19 related costs

Residential aged care providers that have purchased RAT kits at their own expense to undertake RAT screening of visitors and staff may apply for reimbursement of this expense via the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863), should these expenses otherwise meet the eligibility criteria.

Home Care Package providers who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible to apply for the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863) to help with the cost of purchasing RAT kits.

See the Grant Opportunity Guidelines published on GrantConnect for more information.

More information

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates the supply and use of RAT kits in Australia and has the following resources available:

Please direct RAT regulation enquiries to COVIDtests@TGA.gov.au.

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