State and territory public health advice
- follow any public health orders or work health and safety laws in their state or territory
- be familiar with the relevant state and territory information on COVID-19.
The state or territory public health agency can provide advice relevant to each state or territory about caring for older people who test positive for COVID‑19.
Infection prevention and control
The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) has developed national guidelines for the prevention, control and public health management of outbreaks of acute respiratory infection (including COVID-19 and influenza) in residential aged care homes.
Although there are no national guidelines specifically for in-home aged care, these guidelines can be adapted for the in-home aged care sector.
Aged care providers are responsible for ensuring all aged care workers are trained in infection prevent and control (IPC), such as cleaning and disinfection principles.
For online training see:
- Hand hygiene and infection prevention and control eLearning modules
- IPC for aged care eLearning modules – for all aged care workers
- IPC advanced education eLearning modules – for health care, aged and disability care workers and organisations, and workforce groups.
Where close personal care and support services are provided, in-home aged care is classed as a high-risk setting as it involves frequent close contact with older people.
Providers must have a COVIDSafe Plan that is reviewed and updated regularly, especially when public health advice changes.
A COVIDSafe Plan should:
- outline what control measures a provider will implement to eliminate or minimise the spread of COVID-19
- ensure the health and safety of workers, older people and others in their workplace, including peoples’ homes.
Providers should develop a workforce management plan to reduce risks that could affect staffing.
Aged care workers who test positive for COVID-19 should not attend work for at least 7 days after testing positive and until they have no symptoms of COVID-19.
Where a provider or service has staffing shortages due to COVID-19, providers can:
- prioritise delivering services that are necessary for the health and safety of older people
- seek assistance from other nearby organisations that may be able to subcontract workers to deliver services.
When an older person has COVID-19
When an older person tests positive for COVID-19, providers should:
- monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID‑19, and, if their condition gets worse, workers should contact their GP or call an ambulance
- refer to their emergency care plan, which should outline alternative models of delivery, if required
- help them access alternative care arrangements, if needed.
To keep workers and older people safe, providers should:
- enact COVIDSafe measures when providing in-home aged care services
- minimise the number of workers who come into personal contact
- consider which services are critical to keep the older person safe.
Workers must follow the national infection control guidelines, including advice on when and how to use personal protective equipment when entering the home or room of a person who has tested positive to COVID-19.
Providers should support staff and older people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and other vaccine-preventable illnesses such as influenza.
HCP and CHSP providers must report on the COVID-19 vaccination status of their staff.
ATAGI advice on COVID-19 vaccine doses
If it has been 6 months since a COVID-19 vaccination or confirmed COVID-19 infection, an additional dose:
- is recommended for people aged 75 years or older
- should be considered for people aged 65 to 74 years, following discussion with your healthcare provider.
All COVID-19 vaccines are anticipated to provide benefit to eligible people. However, the monovalent Omicron XBB.1.5 vaccines are preferred over other vaccines for eligible people.
Providers are encouraged to talk about vaccinations with older people.
Read about the COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.
Home Care Packages protocols
Delivery of HCP services that are necessary for the health and safety of care recipients must continue:
- where it is safe to do so
- in line with the relevant state or territory public health order
- even if the care recipient:
- is awaiting test results
- has tested positive for COVID-19
- is unvaccinated or will not disclose their vaccination status
- refuses a COVID-19 test.
Emergency care plans
HCP providers must have an emergency care plan in place with advice on different types of emergencies such as COVID-19 outbreaks, flood or bushfire.
Providers are responsible for:
- supporting care recipients access alternative care arrangements, if needed
- not stopping services without arranging an alternative model of delivery
- making sure all care recipient details are current, including emergency contacts and current GP.
Before an emergency, providers must work with the care recipient, their family, their authorised representatives and their GP or other health practitioners to discuss the plan, including what would trigger the plan's use.
Developing an emergency care plan with care recipients can be incorporated into the usual care management planning discussions.
Read more about preparing an emergency management plan.
Supplying RAT kits to care recipients, family and visitors
When supplying RAT kits and personal protective equipment to care recipients, HCP providers can:
- charge the care recipients what it cost you
- seek an increase in the price of care management to cover the costs (which spreads costs across all care recipients in your care)
- seek agreement from the care recipient to access home care funds in their package budget for purchases made on their behalf.
If care recipients have purchased RAT kits out of pocket to support the safe delivery of aged care services, these may be reimbursed from their HCP funds, or the care recipient may agree to pay additional fees if their HCP budget is already fully allocated.
Care recipients and providers should discuss these issues and ensure all costs and services are agreed and documented in the home care agreement.
Care recipients who want RAT kits for personal use may be able to get them for free under state or territory government programs:
- New South Wales
- Australian Capital Territory
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia.
Security of tenure requirements
HCP providers are bound by security of tenure requirements and must deliver the agreed care and services for as long as the care recipient needs those services (see Section 17 of the User Rights Principles 2014).
Providers may only pause or stop delivering home care where they meet the requirements under the User Rights Principles 2014.
Where a provider cannot continue services for a care recipient, you must continue in a safe manner until they move to another provider willing and able to accept them.
Read more information on security of tenure.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme providers
CHSP providers are responsible for addressing the safety of employees and volunteers delivering services to a client or carer in their home.
This includes operating under the provider’s COVIDSafe Plan and adhering to the infection control procedures, where applicable.
Read more information about CHSP provider responsibilities.
Financial support for providers and workers
We fund grants to support aged care providers and workers impacted by COVID-19.
Some COVID-19 testing expenses are tax deductible when they relate to a person’s job or business.
Publications and fact sheets
Advice for the aged care sector during COVID-19
Find up to date information and advice on COVID-19 for aged care providers, aged care workers and people who access residential or in-home aged care.
COVID-19 resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers
For more information, watch webinars:
To stay up to date on aged care and COVID-19:
Find the latest advice and resources in your state or territory from your local public health agency.