Advice for care recipients
Keep yourself safe from COVID-19 while in residential care:
- tell your aged care worker if you are not feeling well
- wash your hands regularly
- know the guidelines for visitors in your aged care home
- remind your visitors of your home’s guidelines and practise good hygiene
- know how to stay in touch with loved ones when they cannot visit.
If you want to talk with someone about COVID-19 and the impact on you, you can make a free call to the National Coronavirus Helpline.
If you are not feeling well
You must report any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, to your healthcare worker.
They will assess you and may want you to be tested for COVID-19 as a precaution.
COVID-19 testing is available for all aged care residents.
If you are unwell, even if not from COVID-19, avoid interacting with others, where possible.
Aged care workers will continue to support and care for you, even if you have COVID-19.
If you are unwell and need to leave your room, aged care workers will give you a surgical mask and help put it on.
Vaccinations are important in managing COVID-19 in high-risk settings, such as residential aged care.
Your aged care home must give you access to the recommended COVID-19 vaccination doses. You have the right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated.
You can safely have a COVID-19 vaccination at the same time as the annual flu vaccination.
You should also discuss having a shingles vaccination.
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.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination for aged care residents.
Residential aged care homes are responsible for ensuring residents have access to recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses.
COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments
Oral antiviral medicines may help stop a COVID-19 infection from becoming severe.
Read about COVID-19 treatments and who is eligible.
Residents admitted from other health facilities
Residential aged care homes should actively screen for symptoms of COVID-19 in residents being admitted or re-admitted from other health facilities and community settings.
Appropriate infection prevention and control measures should be implemented for residents returning from treatment or care at other facilities.
Find more information in the Communicable Diseases Network Australia national guidelines.
Visitor industry code
The impact of social isolation on older people’s mental, social, physical and emotional wellbeing is very important.
Aged care peak body and consumer advocacy organisations have released an Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes.
The code provides a nationally consistent approach that ensures residents can have visitors while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Your residential aged care homes should:
- allow residents to meet their visitors safely during an outbreak
- take measures to minimise the risk of introducing or spreading COVID-19 in the residential aged care home.
Visitors can include family, friends, visiting health workers and support staff.
Tell the aged care home staff your wishes and preferences for visits.
State and territory advice
All states and territories still provide advice on entry to residential aged care homes.
Visitors should keep up to date with this advice by regularly visiting the state or territory websites:
Advice for visitors
To enter a residential aged care home
Residential aged care homes may have strict procedures for visitors to follow, in line with the directions of their state or territory government.
When you visit a residential aged care home you may need to:
- be screened before entering, including taking a RAT test
- wash your hands before entering and when leaving a resident’s room
- stay 1.5 metres away from residents, where possible
- wear a mask
- stay home when unwell.
Do not visit a residential aged care home if you:
- have tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 7 days
- have been in contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 7 days
- are unwell, including with a fever or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath).
Visitor requirements while at a residential aged care home
- supervise any accompanying children
- practise good hand hygiene
- comply with directions given by staff
- follow any other requirements put in place by the residential aged care home.
Before visiting, call the home to ask what processes are in place.
If you have concerns with the home's requirements or actions, contact the:
- Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822
- Older Person’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 700 600.
Ways to stay in touch remotely
Sometimes you may not be able to visit a resident in aged care as often as you would like.
You can keep in touch and stay connected by:
- phone calls
- video calls
- social communication apps
- sending a postcard
- sharing photos, artwork or short home videos.
Support is available for people who may feel anxious about possible changes to their day-to-day life.
For those living with a cognitive impairment, you can also contact the National Dementia Helpline.
For the latest COVID-19 advice for aged care subscribe to EngAged newsletter.
Contact your local state and territory health departments for information about your local health system arrangements.
If you have concerns about your health, speak to a doctor.