Support during COVID-19 outbreak
Australian Government-funded aged care services (residential and in-home care) experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak can access support.
Once we have been notified of a COVID-19 outbreak, we may appoint a case manager.
A case manager can connect you with resources to manage the outbreak, including:
- personal protective equipment
- rapid antigen test (RAT) kits
- pathology testing
- surge workforce support.
If you need urgent help outside of normal business hours, please contact our office in your state or territory.
Reporting COVID-19 cases
Residential aged care providers must report ALL COVID-19 Cases for residents, staff and visitors immediately to both:
- your state or territory health department (in line with your local guidelines
- the Department of Health and Aged Care via the My Aged Care Portal
Personal protective equipment
It is our priority to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need.
The National Medical Stockpile is not a general supply line for PPE. It is for emergency purposes. Aged care providers should use their own supply of PPE first and only request extra supply when needed.
We will assess requests for PPE on a case-by-case basis and prioritise residential aged care homes that are experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.
If you are a residential aged care service with a current outbreak or exposure and are unable to source PPE, please visit the COVID-19 Support Portal. To request emergency PPE, you must provide evidence of your attempts to source PPE from commercial and retail suppliers.
Rapid Antigen Tests kits - continuing supply for residential aged care homes
This regular weekly deployment should form part of your 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, this should increase to daily testing of staff and visitors.
We supply additional RAT kits to test aged care residents during an outbreak., noting that PCR testing is preferred and can be arranged.
Each week, we deliver RAT kits to every residential aged care home in Australia. Residential aged care homes that are experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak will receive a larger quantity of kits. This quantity is determined by the number of staff, residents and visitors expected at the aged care home.
It is inappropriate for facilities to charge residents, workers, or visitors for the use of these RATs.
All residential aged care homes will receive these RAT kits by default. To opt out of these weekly deliveries, providers can request to be removed from the dispatch list. To request removal from the dispatch list, please email AgedCareCOVIDLiaison@health.gov.au.
Visitors can also use their own RAT kits prior to their visit and may be asked to provide evidence of their test result.
Residential aged care homes that have purchased RAT kits at their own expense to perform RAT screening of visitors and staff may apply for reimbursement through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863).
COVID-19 pathology in-reach testing in residential aged care
We have a dedicated pathology service for rapid specimen collection and COVID-19 testing for cases in residential aged care homes. This service supplements existing public health pathology services.
Sonic Healthcare does priority sample collection and testing for suspected cases of COVID-19 in residential aged care homes. This is available for both residents and staff.
To request COVID-19 testing through Sonic, please contact your Commonwealth or local state health department (South Australia and Western Australia only for local state.
The service is operating nationally until 31 December 2022.
We provide surge workforce and supplementation measures to support approved aged care providers who are impacted by COVID-19. The surge workforce provides temporary support to providers who are impacted by staff isolation or infection.
The supports available include:
- access to a temporary surge workforce to help providers when existing staff are infected or isolating
- emergency response teams, who are on standby if there is a significant outbreak in a residential aged care facility.
If you wish to access COVID-19 aged care surge workforce support that is funded by the Commonwealth, you must exhaust all your existing partnerships and recruitment channels.
The surge workforce is not a long-term arrangement.
We consider surge workforce requests on a case-by-case basis, and the availability of surge workforce support is dependent on the availability of staffing resources.
Once an outbreak of COVID-19 is declared and we have been notified, a Commonwealth case manager will contact you to discuss your workforce strategies and the need for surge workforce support.
Where you manage the staffing impacts independently of the Department, or where the Department helps facilitate access to agency staff, eligible expenses can be reimbursed through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant - GO 4863.
All eligible costs, such as surge workforce invoices, must have been paid in full in order to be eligible for reimbursement. The grant does not provide up front reimbursement of unpaid invoices to facilitate a payment by the impacted service.
For further information, see Coronavirus (COVID-19) aged care workforce measures frequently asked questions.
Support for managing COVID-19 related costs
COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension
The COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program (GO4863) reimburses providers for additional eligible costs incurred in managing a direct impact of COVID-19 this includes:
- waste removal.
Approved residential aged care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP), and Home Care Package providers can apply if they have:
- one or more residents, clients, or staff members who have had to isolate after a COVID-19 test (regardless of a positive or negative result).
- incurred eligible expenses as a result of that isolation (from the date of their COVID-19 test until the end of their isolation period) between 28 May 2021 and 31 December 2022.
This grant opportunity closes on 31 January 2023.
Providers can apply for this grant if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Providers are eligible for the grant if they are receiving other support from the Australian Government such as:
- personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied from the National Medical Stockpile
- staff through Commonwealth workforce surge measures.
Providers are not eligible if they receive funding from another government source for the same purpose, unless out of pocket costs remain.
For more information, see the Grant Opportunity Guidelines published on GrantConnect.
Making an application
Applications for this grant opened on 4 June 2021 and close at 2pm AEST on 31 January 2023.
Applicants should read the Grant Opportunity Guidelines, FAQs and all associated addenda for each grant before submitting an application.
If you have any questions about this grant, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org quoting the grant opportunity number (GO4863).
Mental health supports
We provide grief and trauma response for people in the aged care sector who have been affected by COVID-19. This helps to make sure that support is available through several organisations:
- Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement
- Phoenix Australia
- Dementia Support Australia.
The support includes improved advocacy assistance as well as grief and bereavement counselling.
Staff also have access to training in:
- trauma-informed care and self-care
- post-COVID-19 support for aged care recipients living with dementia
- post-COVID-19 support for people with adverse physical, social and psychological impacts.
Free webinars are available on grief and trauma:
- Accessing grief and trauma support during COVID-19 from the Older Persons Advocacy Network
- Identifying and managing trauma within the aged care sector, from Phoenix Australia
- Trauma and Dementia webinar from Phoenix Australia New link
- Peer support for staff working in residential aged care facilities and providing home care packages from the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement New
- The loss and grief experienced by aged care staff in the wake of COVID-19 from the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement New
Visit Head to Health for information about mental health and digital support.
A range of digital and telehealth support services are available for help with mental health during the pandemic. The Australian Government strengthened these services to include vulnerable people and those with severe and complex needs.
Publications and fact sheets
Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers
- webinars on the COVID-19 response for the health and aged care sector
- webinars for the aged care sector.
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
- personal protective equipment
- 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.
To stay up to date on aged care and COVID-19:
You can also read our COVID-19 advice for: