The information on this page is the latest information and resources for Residential Aged Care Facilities.
Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080
Healthdirect Hotline: 1800 022 222
Public Health Unit: 1300 066 055
If you require clinical advice on matters relating to Communicable Diseases or other Public Health issues outside of normal hours, please contact your nearest Public Health Unit.
Bathurst: 0428 400 526
Dubbo: 0428 400 526
Broken Hill: 0419 917 426
Expand each section below for further information
Preparing for winter – A guide for residential aged care providers
Department of Health: Preparing for winter – A guide for residential aged care providers
The Department of Health has developed this ‘Winter Plan’ which provides overarching guidance and resources for aged care providers to support their readiness, response and recovery from exposures and outbreaks of COVID-19 and/or influenza during winter 2022.
Key highlights from the guide:
- Identify high risk patients that would benefit from antivirals (prior consent gained and family liaison)
- Engage with local community pharmacy to see stock levels for antivirals: https://www.findapharmacy.com.au/home/oral-treatments
Telehealth Services - Connect to Your GP
Western NSW Primary Health Network has gained approval from the Department of Health to expand the availability of telehealth video conferencing to General Practices and any eligible health provider in our footprint.
This will benefit the members of our community that are at greater risk from the virus by enabling continued access to GPs and specialists, nurses and mental health allied health workers using this technology.
This is being facilitated through the Healthdirect Video Calling platform which allows healthcare professionals to engage with their patients in their clinic’s online waiting area, rather than a physical one.
COVID-19 Information Specific to RACFs
Department of Health RAcf COVID-19 Resources
Green Alert Issued by NSW Health
Effective immediately, NSW Health services will move from amber alert, or moderate transmission to green alert, or low transmission in line with the COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Response Framework.
This advice applies to hospital and community health settings and came into effect on Wednesday 18 November 2020.
This decision follows discussion at the Risk Escalation Review Panel today which includes representatives from the Ministry, Public Health Emergency Operations Centre, the Agency for Clinical Innovation and the Clinical Excellence Commission. The Panel’s recommendation has been actioned in consultation with the Chief Health Officer.
The decision has been reinforced in the knowledge of no locally acquired COVID-19 cases in NSW in the past week. The Panel has determined that cases in neighbouring states remain low despite a resurgence of locally acquired cases in South Australia.
Current risk levels are monitored on the COVID-19 Risk Monitoring Dashboard.
GREEN ALERT MESSAGE FROM DR NIGEL LYONS, DEPUTY SECRETARY, HEALTH SYSTEM STRATEGY AND PLANNING
COVID-19 INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL RESPONSE AND ESCALATION FRAMEWORK
WNSW PHN SURGICAL MASK REQUEST FORM
More RACF-Specific Resources
Managing COVID-19 in the First 24 hours
THREE-TIER ESCALATION GUIDELINES
DoH Protocol to Support Join Management in RACFs
COVID-19 Guidelines for Outbreaks in RACFs
COVID-19 - CDNA NATIONAL GUIDELINES FOR PUBLIC HEALTH UNITS
Guidance for symptom monitoring during the COVID-19 outbreak
NSW Health Secondary Triage Information for RACFs
NSW Health Secondary Triage Information - for Healthcare Workers and GP's
NSW Health Secondary Triage - Information for Residents and their Families
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Risk-Based Regulatory Response
Statement from Ms Janet Anderson PSM - Significant growth in regulatory activities relating to aged care in the context of COVID-19
SupportRACF Support from Western NSW LHD
Visitors & Quality Care
Visitation Guidelines During COVID-19Supporting safe, quality care for aged care consumers during visitor restrictionsInformation for Families and Residents on Restricted VisitsFAQ's - Restrictions on entry into and visitors to aged care facilitiesSUPPORTING VISITS AND CONTACT WITH FAMILY FOR INPATIENTS IN THE LAST DAYS OF LIFEHEALTHCARE VISITING GUIDE: ENABLING FAMILY PRESENCE DURING COVID-19
Aged Care Visitor Access Code
An Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 has been released by aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations.
The Code creates a nationally consistent approach that ensures residents can receive visitors while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19. The Code was finalised after public consultation with consumers and aged care providers.
The Code includes the respective rights and responsibilities of providers, residents and visitors. It also outlines that residential aged care services should allow residents to meet their visitors in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 being introduced or spread within a residential facility.Access the Code here
Security of tenure During COVID-19
Security of tenure for residents within an aged care facility differs during COVID-19.
If there is an instance of confirmed COVID-19 or suspected cases of COVID-19 in an aged care home, or where a resident wishes to return to an aged care home while suffering from or suspected to be suffering from COVID-19, there may be a need to temporarily move a resident to another room within a facility, or in some circumstances to a different care location.
These circumstances differ from the usual principles described in the User Rights Principles, as it would likely be considered an emergency situation in accordance with the principles.
If an aged care facility is not suitable for the isolation of a resident with COVID-19, the Public Health Orders require that person to travel directly to a suitable place to reside in until they are medically cleared. Compliance with the Public Health Orders would, therefore, permit residents to be moved to other appropriate care locations temporarily. The decision of whether an aged care facility is suitable is made by the State or Territory Public Health Unit in consultation with the aged care provider, resident and their family.
If a resident needs to be moved, this move should be made on a temporary basis in consultation with the resident and their family, and preferably with the resident’s agreement.
In situations, however, where an aged care facility wanted to permanently move a resident to a new room or out of the facility, then normal security of tenure arrangements apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Access Security of Tenure & User Rights Principles here
Emergency Leave for Aged Care Residents
Emergency Leave Information for ProvidersEmergency Leave Information for Residents
While the Department continues to encourage service providers to accept clients in need of respite where safe to do so, all services must comply with social distancing measures. Please also review infection control measures and social restriction requirements to ensure client safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
social restriction requirements
Information for Residential Respite Providers
Staff Working Multiple Assignments & Facilities
Guidelines for Staff Working Multiple Assignments and Facilities
Information for Aged Care Residents and their Families
OPAN COVID-19 Resources for RACF Residents and their Families
COVID-19 Care Planning & Resources
Information for Home Care Providers
Information for In-Home Care Workers
Information for Older Australians
Immunisation Information During COVID-19
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH - IT'S OK TO HAVE HOME CARE
HEALTHCARE VISITING GUIDE: ENABLING FAMILY PRESENCE DURING COVID-19
OLDER AUSTRALIANS COVID-19 SUPPORT LINE
NATIONAL AGED CARE ADVOCACY PROGRAMAssistance with food and meals
The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line
NSW Health Protocol to Support Joint Management of a COVID-19 Outbreak
NSW Health is working in close partnership with the Commonwealth to support residential aged care facilities as they manage a COVID-19 outbreak.
The below link will take you to a page containing a short video which outlines NSW Health’s role in providing public health advice in the management and prevention of infectious diseases, and how they can provide specialist health care to residents of aged care facilities when they need it. The video also raises awareness of the importance of understanding and respecting the wishes of residents, particularly around advance care directives.
The web page also includes a:
- Copy of the protocol to support joint management of a COVID-19 outbreak in a RACF in NSW.
This protocol was jointly developed by NSW Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health to formalise the coordination of government support to a residential aged care provider in their management of a COVID-19 outbreak. The protocol incorporates feedback received during consultation sessions with aged care peak bodies and providers.
The roles and responsibilities of all relevant parties, governance structures and escalation procedures are outlined with the intention that the protocol facilitates fast mobilisation of required government support to an aged care provider in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
The primary objectives of this protocol are to optimise care for all residents in impacted RACFs (regardless of their COVID-19 status) and to contain and control the outbreak to bring it to an end as quickly and safely as possible.
- COVID-19 outbreak governance – residential aged care facilities, which provides a visual summary of the governance structure outlined in the joint protocol.
- NSW COVID-19 Incident Action Plan for a public health response to a confirmed case of Covid-19 in a RACF.
The purpose of the NSW COVID-19 Incident Action Plan is to guide public health operations in supporting a residential aged care facility, and prevent further transmission following a confirmed case of COVID-19 within a residential aged care facility. It outlines in detail the roles of the various parties and operationalises the Joint Protocol between NSW Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health. This plan is intended to guide local health districts in the development of local incident action plans.
Returning To Work Post-Isolation
A joint statement from the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) and Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN) with the revised Australian criteria for the release from isolation of people who have recovered from COVID-19.
Discharging new and returning residents during COVID-19
Re-admission of residents from other health facilities
In accordance with the recommendations of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (AHPPC), all residential aged care facilities should conduct active screening for symptoms of COVID-19 in residents being admitted or re-admitted from other health facilities. Residents admitted from other health facilities should be assessed by appropriate medical staff prior to admission to the facility. New residents with COVID-19 compatible symptoms should not be permitted to enter a residential aged care facility.
Residents who have been transferred to hospital for any reason, including COVID-19, should be readmitted to the facility as soon as they are well enough to be discharged from hospital.
Active screening, monitoring of symptoms and appropriate infection prevention and control practices remains of utmost importance for residents returning from treatment or care at other facilities.
To assist residential aged care facilities in managing the risk of introducing COVID-19 into a facility, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission provided advice to residential aged care facilities on entry screening advice for people entering residential aged care facilities.
Guidance is available to help residential aged care providers and their staff communicate with families in the difficult situation of a resident testing positive for COVID-19.
All residential aged care facilities across the country are urged to prepare their communication system for a potential COVID-19 outbreak. This includes phoning the nominated representative for each resident in your facility to confirm you have their latest contact number(s) and email address.
It is important that nominated representatives understand their obligations to:
- be contactable
- pass information on to other family and friends.
Ask if you can share their contact details with government authorities and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). Note that their details will not be used for marketing, but strictly to facilitate assistance to the facility and its residents.
Preparing your Communication for a COVID-19 Outbreak - Flyer
Communication When a Resident Tests Positive for COVID-19 - Flyer
Education Modules & Webinars
Four eLearning modules developed specifically for Aged Care Workers are now online.
- Module 1: Personal Safety
- Module 2: Families and Visitors
- Module 3: COVID-19 and Aged Care
- Module 4: Outbreak Management procedures
If you would like to access the Aged Care training, users will need to register their workplaces as ‘Aged Care’. If you have already registered for online training but not with ‘Aged Care’ as your workplace, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a priority response.
Access the dEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COVID-19 TRAINING MODULES
HETI PPE Training Modules
Please note - The HETI Moodle is an open access site and self-enrolling. The site cannot save access or completion information for courses. For staff to maintain a record of completion they must register correctly when they first create an account for accessing the site; and then print and/or save their certificates.
Further Training Modules
PROPER HAND HYGIENE - INFECTION CONTROL
CEC COVID-19 PPE TRAINING VIDEOS
WHO ACADEMY COVID-19 MOBILE LEARNING APP
WNSW PHN Infection Prevention & Control WebinarView the July 28 Infection Prevention & Control Webinar here
Department of Health Webinar May 8 2020
This webinar covers:
- Practical insights into preparation for an outbreak
- Covid-19 special payment
- Aged Care Visitor Access Code
- Protecting Older Australians Newsletter
COVID-19 & Dementia
Dementia Australia has released four Help Sheets outlining tips for people living with dementia, carers, families and friends of people living with dementia, residential care providers and home care providers.
ACCESS THE DEMENTIA AUSTRALIA HELP SHEETS HERE
Managing Behaviours During a Pandemic
Dementia Australia - Tips for RACFs
Dementia Australia - Tips for People Living with Dementia
Dementia Training Australia - Resources Guide
Dementia Training Australia - Dementia Discovery Micro-Courses
Dementia Australia's 2021 Dementia Learning Guide
Dementia Australia's 2021 Dementia Learning Guide is essential to planning your approach to building your team's dementia capabilities. It offers more digital education using virtual classrooms and interactive elements to maximise engagement and learning outcomes.
Centre for Dementia Learning can empower your team with the knowledge and skills that maximise engagement, improve communication and increase empathy. Developing and mentoring staff is critical to building organisational capability and business performance.
With Dementia Australia's support and guidance, your organisation can systematically improve the services you offer and create better outcomes for people living with dementia.
Access the Dementia Australia 2021 Dementia Learning Guide here
Advanced Care Planning
Advance Care Planning (ACP) enables a person to discuss and document the extent of medical intervention they wish to receive when in critical care or if approaching the end of their life.
ACP should be part of routine practice and with the increasing impact of COVID-19 on services, it is critical for clinical staff to proactively engage in these discussions with all patients and families.
Residential Aged Care Facilities are encouraged to ensure ACP information is available and up-to-date for residents.
Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care
Advance Care Planning Australia
Conversation Starters - A4 Poster
Grief, Loss and Bereavement Support
Following on from announcements regarding grief and trauma support for aged care recipients, their loved ones and aged care staff, here are details on grief, loss and bereavement counselling services available and how to access them:
- PHONE COUNSELLING: The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB) has a free grief, loss and bereavement support service available on 1800 22 22 00. Callers will be triaged and directed to self-care resources, group counselling or 1:1 counselling sessions with a bereavement practitioner via telehealth, video call, or in person.
- ACGB has bi-lingual staff who can currently work with clients in Arabic, Czech, Farsi, French, Italian, Japanese, Maltese, Sinhali, Tamil, Spanish and Yiddish. Request your preferred language when phoning, otherwise TIS can be used to support other preferred languages.
- ACGB is also available to help aged care providers, religious and community groups who need help tailoring strategies to support their organisations and communities with grief and loss due to COVID-19.
- ACGB supports the use of Auslan for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
- PHONE APP: The free “My Grief” app provides tools to support people who are bereaved, and also provides strategies on how loved ones can support someone experiencing grief and loss.
- INFORMATION: There are COVID-19 specific grief and trauma fact sheets available on the ACGB website at: www.aged.grief.org.au.
Supporting people after trauma:
Phoenix Australia offers information and tools to support those who have had traumatic experiences, as well as trauma recovery resources for carers and aged care providers. They also have tip sheets to support health practitioners and community members www.phoenixaustralia.org/aged-care
Dementia Support Australia provide 24-hour help, across Australia 365 days a year. Trained consultants provide advice and recommendations to people who care for someone with dementia where behaviours are impacting their care. Phone 1800 699 799, www.dementia.com.au
OPAN is the voice for older people who are using or considering aged care. They provide free, confidential, independent advocacy as well as information and education to older people, their families and representatives. Phone OPAN on 1800 237 981 to talk about COVID-19 concerns www.opan.com.au
All of these organisations work in the spirit of respect and inclusivity. If a person requires a translator for these services: phone 131 450 first, nominate which language and then nominate which service to connect to. Auslan is also supported by ACGB.
Masks & PPE
Department of Health PPE Guidance
CEC COVID-19 PPE TRAINING VIDEOS
When to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Aged Care
Using PPE in Areas with Significant community transmission
Ordering PPE Supplies
New process for Requesting PPE
The Australian Government is prioritising Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need.
To ensure PPE from the National Medical Stockpile is effectively prioritised on a needs-basis, providers are being asked to complete a new Aged Care PPE Request Form. This form will be sent to you via email after an initial inquiry is made via the email@example.com email address.
Providers will be asked a number of questions relating to their PPE needs, including staff numbers (or home client visits per day), number of care recipients, PPE supplies on hands, and PPE requirements. It is recommended someone with an appropriate level of operational knowledge complete the form.
If you have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, a case manager will work with you on your PPE requirements.
At this stage, generally, only masks are being distributed to residential and in-home aged care services who are in a priority category.
A priority category is a residential or in-home aged care service who:
- cannot access PPE through their usual means, and
- the Australian Government or State or Territory Government requires workers to wear masks in relation to a community transmission region, or
- they deliver personal care or other activities that require close physical contact, where:
- there is an outbreak or suspected case of COVID-19 or another notifiable infectious respiratory disease, or
- there is an immediate threat to the continuity of safe quality care due to a lack of access to PPE supplies.
Providers should also continue to try to source the PPE through suppliers while awaiting a response. Providers need to establish an ongoing general PPE supply.
In the absence of a vaccine for COVID-19, preventing exposure is the single most important step that any of us can take to protect ourselves and others from contracting this virus.
Providers should be undertaking routine screening of staff and visitors on entry irrespective of size or location. It is especially important for residential services located in communities (and/or drawing their staff from communities) where there is a local cluster of people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, or which are considered to be at higher risk of an outbreak.
Entry Screening Advice for RACFS
Helpful Information and Resources
COVID-19 Aged Care Support Programs
LETTER TO RACFS FROM FEDERAL MINISTER FOR AGED CARE & SENIOR AUSTRALIANS
Third Retention Bonus Payment Information
Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Grant Opportunity Open
The Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) Grant Opportunity is designed to minimise the risk of infection to aged care workers, residents and other consumers of aged care service.
The Grant is now open to approved Residential Aged Care providers, approved National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) providers and approved Home Care providers.
Access the SACWIC Grant Details here
More Support Programs
National Aged Care Emergency Response
Workforce Retention Bonus FAQ's
The COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program will reimburse eligible aged care providers for eligible expenditure incurred on managing direct impacts of COVID-19.
The Program will run over 2 years from 2019-20 to 2020-21.
The Program will assist Residential Aged Care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program and Home Care Package providers that are subject to direct COVID-19 impacts, to deliver continuity of safe quality care for consumers.
Access the Aged Care Support Program Details
The Australian Government is making a special COVID-19 payment to all residential aged care providers to further support their response to the coronavirus pandemic. The payment will be linked to the number of residents being cared for by the facility. Facilities outside major metropolitan areas will receive a 50 per cent loading to cover the additional costs of providing care in these areas. The amount will equate to $900 per resident in major metropolitan areas and around $1350 per resident in all other areas.
Access the Australian Government Payment Information here
Altura Learning, DASH Group and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) have partnered to provide an innovative solution to the workforce issues that have arisen in aged care since COVID-19.
The Aged Care Assistant (ACA) role has been created to provide aged care organisations with a surge workforce. The role is designed to provide direct assistance to your current staff to allow them to focus on continuity of care and service provision.
Access the Aged Care Assistant Employment Program here
Workforce Surge Measure
The Department has engaged Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) and Healthcare Australia (HCA) to provide surge workforce, commencing 1 July 2020, to ensure the continuity of aged care during COVID-19.
These arrangements complement the temporary surge workforce through Mable’s online platform www.mable.com.au , and the emergency response teams and remote locums through Aspen Medical that are already in place. The new services allow residential and home care providers to access a wider pool of workforce suppliers when looking to engage additional staff to supplement their workforce in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
If providers are unable to find all required staff through their usual arrangements, the workforce surge measures are in place to help providers find skilled workers to fill critical gaps or shortages.
These additional arrangements recognise the ongoing need of providers to readily access experienced and qualified staff when managing a COVID-19 outbreak.
Under the existing workforce measures, the Government will continue to pay the costs of staff deployed where a COVID-19 outbreak is experienced by an aged care provider and staff are engaged through Aspen Medical for emergency response teams and remote locums, and for staff engaged through Mable. Staff engaged through RCSA and HCA will be invoiced directly to the providers and may be reimbursed through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Grant Program.
NSW Ambulance Authorised Care Plans During COVID-19
In response to the current demand on services regarding COVID-19, NSW Ambulance Models of Care Unit is changing the processing, endorsement and return of Authorised Care Plans.
Plans can be submitted via firstname.lastname@example.org
Plan information can be accessed here
Letter of Notice - Change of Process from NSW Ambulance