COVID-19 Resources

Resources Register (last updated 6 July 2020)

LASA has compiled a register of aged care specific COVID-19 resources below. The Department of Health webpage on providing age services during COVID-19 provides official advice on when you must not go to work, testing, identifying symptoms in older people, and protecting yourself and the people you care for.

Workforce
  
LAST UPDATED
COVID-19 aged care workforce measures - FAQs3 July 2020
Aged Care Workforce Retention Bonus FAQs - Department of Health17 June 2020
Further details on the aged care workforce retention bonus payment11 June 2020
Workforce Retention Bonus Grant – Residential Care And Home Care5 June 2020
Delivering Aged Care Services in a 'Living With-COVID-19' World - LASA Resource4 June 2020
Working arrangements for the health and aged care workforce during COVID-192 June 2020
Food Standards Authority Checklist for Recommencing Food Service Operations1 June 2020
LASA COVID-19 Government Funding Resource3 June 2020
Mental health for the health workforce during COVID-1922 May 2020
Mental health issues associated with coping with coronavirus: Dr Norman Swan ABC video6 May 2020
COVID-19 Aged Care Assistant Employment Program22 Apr 2020
COVID-19 information for employers22 Apr 2020
Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws: Fair Work Ombudsman7 Apr 2020
COVID-19 Information for Employers: Department of Health23 Mar 2020
Information on work attendance and testing for health and residential aged care workers13 Mar 2020
Safe Work Australia: COVID-19 Information for workplaces
Safe Work Australia: COVID-19 Business resource kit
Safe Work Australia: Mental health and COVID-19
Safe Work NSW: COVID-19 and mental health at work
Work Safe Victoria: Information about creating mentally healthy workplaces
Work Cover Queensland: Mentally healthy workplaces
Access Canberra: Work-related mental health
Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service: Beyond Blue
Looking after your mental health – Australian Psychological Society
Preparedness and Prevention - General Resources
   
Preparedness and Prevention of COVID-19LAST UPDATED
Campaign Resources: Department of HealthTemplates/ Resources6 July 2020
COVID-19 Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PeopleTemplates/ Resources3 July 2020
Guidance for people tested for COVID-19Official Guidance2 July 2020
Guidance on use of PPE in non-inpatient health care settingsOfficial Guidance26 June 2020
LASA COVID-19 Government Funding ResourceTemplates/ Resources19 June 2020
Department of Health webinars on the COVID-19 response for the health and aged care sectorTemplates/ Resources19 June 2020
Community Visitors Scheme FAQsTemplates/ Resources17 June 2020
Translated COVID-19 ResourcesTemplates/ Resources2 June 2020
Use of masks by the public in the communityOfficial Guidance31 May 2020
PPE for the health workforce during COVID-19Official Guidance28 May 2020
The use of face masks and respirators in the context of COVID-19Official Guidance26 May 2020
COVID Influenza Vaccination Factsheet - LASATemplates/ Resources22 May 2020
PHLN statement on use of saliva as an alternative specimen for the diagnosis of SARS-COV-2Official Guidance21 May 2020
Receptionist checklist during COVID-19 PandemicTemplates/ Resources21 May 2020
Hygiene and cleaning for the health workforce during COVID-19Official Guidance5 May 2020
COVID-19 resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and healthcare managersTemplates/ Resources5 May 2020
Settlement Council of Australia - Australian Government COVID-19 Fact Sheets in a Range of LanguagesOfficial Guidance4 May 2020
Modelling the current impact of COVID-19 in AustraliaOfficial Guidance1 May 2020
Remote community entry requirements in place Official Guidance30 Apr 2020
Exemptions to the 14-day mandatory quarantine period
Exemptions applying to marine crew, unaccompanied minors, transit passengers, diplomats, compassionate or medical grounds.
Official Guidance24 Apr 2020
Key updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitiesOfficial Guidance24 April 2020
COVID-19 Fact Sheet - Identifying the SymptomsOfficial Guidance22 Apr 2020
CDNA Interim National Guidance for Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CommunitiesOfficial Guidance21 Apr 2020
COVID-19 Video: Wearing Personal Protective Equipment in Aged CareOfficial Guidance15 Apr 2020
Information on the Use of Surgical Masks: Department of HealthOfficial Guidance14 Apr 2020
Fact sheet: When to use PPE in Aged CareTemplates/ Resources8 Apr 2020
Putting on and Removing PPE: ACQSC Factsheet and DiagramTemplates/ Resources7 Apr 2020
Advance Care Planning Australia COVID-19 PlanningTemplates/ Resources7 Apr 2020
Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PopulationsOfficial Guidance30 Mar 2020
PHLN statement on point-of-care serology testing for SARS-CoV-2Official Guidance22 Mar 2020
Fact Sheet: COVID-19 National Health Plan – Aged Care PreparednessOfficial Guidance12 Mar 2020
Fact Sheet: COVID-19 National Health Plan – Pathology Testing in Aged CareOfficial Guidance12 Mar 2020
Preparedness and Prevention - Residential Care Resources
  LAST UPDATED
COVID Influenza Vaccination Factsheet - LASATemplates/Resources3 July 2020
Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes During COVID-19Official Guidance3 July 2020
Guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control in RACFs: Department of HealthOfficial Guidance26 June 2020
Flu vaccination requirements for aged care facilitiesOfficial Guidance23 June 2020
COVID-19 information for residential respite providersOfficial Guidance22 June 2020
Restrictions on entry into and visitors to aged care facilitiesOfficial Guidance19 June 2020
Information for families and residents on restricted visits to RACFs: Department of HealthOfficial Guidance19 June 2020
AHPPC update to residential aged care facilities about minimising the impact of COVID-19Official Guidance19 June 2020
SA Government: COVID-19 Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities)Official Guidance18 June 2020
Emergency leave: Information for residential aged care providersTemplates/Resources17 June 2020
Emergency leave: Information for permanent aged care residentsTemplates/Resources17 June 2020
COVID-19 questions for consumers to ask of residential services: ACQSCTemplates/Resources15 June 2020
NSW GP letter for visitors seeking flu immunisation exemptionsTemplates/Resources5 June 2020
COVID-19 Outbreak Management in Residential Care Facilities: Department of HealthOfficial Guidance4 June 2020
Guideline for Management of COVID-19 in Residential Care Facilities - SA HealthOfficial Guidance2 June 2020
Information for Residential Aged Care Facilities - SA HealthOfficial Guidance2 June 2020
Service Compliance Ratings: Information for residential aged care service providersOfficial Guidance27 May 2020
Information for primary health care services supporting people with disabilityOfficial Guidance26 May 2020
Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes During COVID-19: ACQSC Fact SheetOfficial Guidance21 May 2020
Information for support workers on COVID-19 testing for people with disabilityOfficial Guidance21 May 2020
Receptionist checklist during COVID-19 pandemicTemplates/Resources21 May 2020
Lessons from the COVID-19 Coalface - Residential CareTemplates/Resources19 May 2020
Managing COVID-19 in residential aged careOfficial Guidance19 May 2020
Environmental cleaning and disinfection principles for health and residential care facilitiesOfficial Guidance14 May 2020
Keeping residential care services safe: LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman SwanTemplates/Resources12 May 2020
Community Visitors Scheme: COVID-19 FAQs for AuspicesOfficial Guidance22 Apr 2020
MBS Telehealth Services and Increased Practice Incentive PaymentsOfficial Guidance20 Apr 2020
Management and Operational Plan for People with DisabilityOfficial Guidance19 Apr 2020
Information for workers in residential aged care facilities: Department of HealthOfficial Guidance7 Apr 2020
Residential Care Template Letter - Employment Confirmation for Staff Travelling to WorkTemplates/Resources14 April 2020
Residential Care Letter Template - Flu Vaccinations for StaffTemplates/ Resources7 Apr 2020
COVID-19 Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection for Health and Residential Care FacilitiesOfficial Guidance26 Mar 2020
Residential Care Letter Template - New Visitor ProtocolTemplates/ Resources23 Mar 2020
Residential Care Letter Template - Precautionary LockdownTemplates/ Resources23 Mar 2020
WHO Infection Prevention and Control for Long-Term Care Facilities (COVID-19)Additional Guidelines21 Mar 2020
CDNA Guidelines for COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care FacilitiesOfficial Guidance13 Mar 2020
Preparedness and Prevention - Home and Community Care Resources
  LAST UPDATED
ACQSC: Are you alert and ready - Home Care ServicesOfficial Guidance1 July 2020
Department of Health Home Care Provider Survey – analysis of data collectedOfficial Guidance22 June 2020
COVID-19 emergency funding for CHSP providersOfficial Guidance18 June 2020
COVID-19 changes to CHSP flexibility provisionsOfficial Guidance18 June 2020
Other support and programme initiatives for CHSP providersOfficial Guidance10 June 2020
COVID-19 and the CHSP - information for clients, families and carersOfficial Guidance10 June 2020
COVID-19 – It’s ok to have home careTemplates/Resources5 June 2020
Receptionist checklist during COVID-19 pandemicTemplates/Resources21 May 2020
COVID-19 Guide for Home Care Providers: Department of HealthOfficial Guidance20 May 2020
Managing COVID-19 in home careOfficial Guidance19 May 2020
Information about routine environmental cleaning and disinfection in the communityOfficial Guidance14 May 2020
Care at home during COVID-19: LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman SwanTemplates/Resources12 May 2020
Information for in-home care workers: Department of HealthOfficial Guidance30 Apr 2020
Personal monitoring technology for senior AustraliansOfficial Guidance30 Apr 2020
LASA Infection Control Plan Template for Home and Community CareTemplates/Resources24 Apr 2020
Community Visitors Scheme: COVID-19 FAQs for AuspicesOfficial Guidance22 Apr 2020
Information sheet for people who have an aged care worker visiting them at homeOfficial Guidance16 Apr 2020
Assistance with Food and Meals for Older Australians Impacted by COVID-19Official Guidance14 Apr 2020
Home Care Letter Template - Employment Confirmation for Staff Travelling to WorkTemplates/Resources14 Apr 2020
Interim Home Care Provider Preparedness Checklist - prepared by LASA Home Care SpecialistsTemplates/Resources19 Mar 2020
LASA Factsheet: Providing In-Home CareTemplates/Resources2 Apr 2020
LASA Preparedness Checklist for Home and Community CareTemplates/Resources2 Apr 2020
Department of Health Factsheet for In-Home Care WorkersOfficial Guidance28 Mar 2020
Department of Health Information for Older Australians (including HCP recipients)Official Guidance29 Mar 2020
COVID-19 Information on Routine Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection in the CommunityOfficial Guidance26 Mar 2020
Home Care Client Letter TemplateTemplates/Resources23 Mar 2020
In Home and Community Aged Care COVID-19 Preparedness WebinarOfficial Guidance15 Mar 2020
Understanding COVID-19
  
Understanding COVID-19LAST UPDATED
Coronavirus (COVID-19) at a glance: Department of Health Infographic (updated daily, includes case numbers in age services)Daily
Department of Health resources for health professionals15 June 2020
Translated COVID-19 Resources15 June 2020
Australian National Disease Surveillance Plan for COVID-1931 May 2020
COVID-19 Information for Older Australians: Department of Health27 May 2020
3-Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia - Infographic12 June 2020
Staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic: LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman Swan12 May 2020
What if I get sick? LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman Swan12 May 2020
Pandemic Health Intelligence Plan - framework for collecting the information required to support decision making8 May 2020
Communicable Diseases Network Australia - National guidelines including latest case definitions24 Apr 2020
COVID-19 Fact Sheet - identifying the symptoms22 Apr 2020
COVID-19 Patient Journey and Testing Options: Department of Health Infographic9 Apr 2020
Impact of COVID-19 in Australia – ensuring the health system can respond7 Apr 2020
Putting on and Removing PPE: Factsheet and Diagram7 Apr 2020
Exemptions to the 14-day mandatory quarantine period5 Apr 2020
Coronavirus Australia App: Department of Health2 Apr 2020
Frequently Asked Questions: Department of Health1 Apr 2020
COVID-19 National Health Plan – Supporting the Mental Health of Australians29 Mar 2020
COVID-19 National Health Plan – Home Medicines Services Information for Consumers28 Mar 2020
COVID-19 Information on the Use of Surgical Masks: Department of Health27 Mar 2020
Settlement Council of Australia - Australian Government COVID-19 Fact Sheets in a Range of Languages25 Mar 2020
COVID19 What You Need to Know: Department of Health25 Mar 2020
Information on Social Distancing: Department of Health25 Mar 2020
Infection Control Training Module, Department of Health25 Mar 2020
PPE Request Form22 Mar 2020
Information for people with a suspected case: Department of Health20 Mar 2020
COVID19 isolation guidance: Department of Health19 Mar 2020
COVID19 home isolation when unwell: Department of Health18 Mar 2020
COVID19 National Health Plan Resources: Department of Health16 Mar 2020
Information for close contacts of a confirmed case : Department of Health14 Mar 2020
Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus7 Feb 2020
Campaign Materials for Providers
  
LAST UPDATED
Campaign Resources: Department of Health16 June 2020
COVID-19 Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and Remote Communities10 June 2020
Poster: Protecting you from coronavirus21 May 2020
Translated COVID-19 Resources17 May 2020
Keeping residential care services safe: LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman Swan12 May 2020
Care at home during the COVID-19 pandemic: LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman Swan12 May 2020
Staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic: LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman Swan12 May 2020
What if I get sick? LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman Swan12 May 2020
Caring for people with dementia: LASA-OPAN video presented by Dr Norman Swan12 May 2020
COVID-19 flu vaccination poster for aged care facilities4 May 2020
COVIDSafe app campaign resources4 May 2020
Instagram or Facebook - COVIDSafe keep you and your family safe29 Apr 2020
Twitter tile - download COVIDSafe today29 Apr 2020
Social media tile - download COVIDSafe today29 Apr 2020
COVIDSafe App Poster - Know faster if you've come in contact with coronavirus29 Apr 2020
Coronavirus Video - Stay Informed19 Apr 2020
Coronavirus video - Stay at Home19 Apr 2020
COVID-19 Video: Wearing Personal Protective Equipment in Aged Care15 Apr 2020
Video - Wearing PPE in Aged Care: Department of Health14 Apr 2020
COVID-19 Poster – Supporting older Australians14 Apr 2020
Campaign Resources in a Range of Languages: NSW Health31 Mar 2020
Video - Older Australians: Department of Health24 Mar 2020
Video - Social Distancing: Department of Health24 Mar 2020
Video - Help Stop the Spread: Department of Health24 Mar 2020
Video - Recent Traveller: Department of Health24 Mar 2020
Video - Good Hygiene Starts Here: Department of Health24 Mar 2020
Video - Stay Informed: Department of Health24 Mar 2020
Change of Hours Poster22 Mar 2020
Good Hygiene Practices Poster22 Mar 2020
Temporary Closure Poster22 Mar 2020
Temporary Changes Poster22 Mar 2020
World Health Organisation COVID19 advice for public (including downloadable posters)18 Mar 2020
COVID-19 Resources in English15 Mar 2020

ASK A QUESTION / SUBSCRIBE TO HEALTH UPDATES

If you have a question that isn’t answered in the resources and frequently asked questions on this page, please fill out this form or email health@lasa.asn.au and we will endeavour to source answers for you.

Subscribe to LASA Health Updates? (LASA Members only)

LASA Membership

8 + 13 =

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Answers below have been compiled from current available information in the documents linked to above.  LASA will review the information daily to ensure we are sharing the latest available advice and documentation.

What are the definitions of a probable case and a suspect case?

Probable case

A person who has detection of SARS-CoV-2 neutralising or IgG antibody AND has had a compatible clinical illness AND meets one or more of the epidemiological criteria outlined in the suspect case definition (see below).

Suspect case

Clinical and public health judgement should be used to determine the need for testing in hospitalised patients and patients who do not meet the clinical or epidemiological criteria.

A person who meets the following clinical AND epidemiological criteria:

Clinical Criteria:

Fever (≥37.5°C) or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) OR loss of smell or taste.

Epidemiological criteria:

i. In the 14 days prior to illness onset:

  • Close contact5,6 (refer to Contact definition below) with a confirmed or probable case
  • International or interstate travel
  • Passengers or crew who have travelled on a cruise ship
  • Healthcare, aged or residential care workers and staff with direct patient contact
  • People who have lived in or travelled through a geographically localised area with elevated risk of community transmission, as defined by public health authorities

ii. Hospitalised patients, where no other clinical focus of infection or alternate explanation of the patient’s illness is evident.

Does everybody entering a residential care facility need to be vaccinated against influenza?

Yes. Commonwealth requirements relating to the restrictions on entering and remaining in a residential care facility are outlined in this new Fact Sheet from the Department of Health. States and territories also have their own specific requirements in relation to flu vaccinations – links to these are in the Fact Sheet.

The Department of Health has opened a new email address for providers to report any issues accessing supply of this year’s flu vaccine: COVID-19FluVaccine@health.gov.au.

LASA has sought guidance from all states and territories on reasonable steps that providers should take to meet the legislative requirement for all staff and visitors to have a flu vaccination. Once we have gathered all the responses we will collate this information into a resource for Members.

Are there provisions for extended respite in residential aged care for those who want it?

At this stage respite remains at 63 +21 days. If your respite residents are seeking additional respite in residential aged care, they or the Approved Provider need to contact their ACAT assessor to discuss.

What advice is there on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Aged care workers should wear appropriate PPE when they are providing care to suspected case/s of COVID-19 who are awaiting test results in the interim until their test results are confirmed negative (they do not have COVID-19). The appropriate PPE is known as contact and droplet precautions and requires a gown, surgical mask, eye protection and gloves.

If the suspected COVID-19 case is confirmed positive and staff who were in close contact with the client did not use appropriate PPE, these staff will be required to notify their employer and self-quarantine for 14 days.

If the suspected COVID-19 case is confirmed positive and staff who were in close contact with the client did use appropriate PPE, these staff can continue to provide care to the client, and other clients, and do not need to self-quarantine.

What is close contact?

  • face-to-face contact in any setting with a confirmed or probable case, for greater than 15 minutes cumulative over the course of a week, in the period extending from 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case, or
  • sharing of a closed space with a confirmed or probable case for a prolonged period (e.g. more than 2 hours) in the period extending from 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case.

Contact needs to have occurred within the period extending 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the case until the case is classified as no longer infectious by the treating team (usually 24 hours after the resolution of symptoms).

Note that:

  • Healthcare workers and other contacts who have taken recommended infection control precautions, including the use of full PPE, while caring for a symptomatic confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases are not considered to be close contacts.
  • Contact tracing is not required for close contacts arriving on international flights on or after 16 March 2020.

Do staff need to wear PPE when providing aged care services to a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case (and the close contact is in quarantine or isolation for 14 days)?

Aged care workers do not need to wear any additional PPE, above appropriate contact precautions where required, if they have only been exposed to a close contact who does not have symptoms of COVID-19.

Aged care workers only need to wear additional PPE, known as droplet precautions (including gown, surgical mask, eye protection and gloves) when providing care to a close contact of a COVID-19 case when:

  • The close contact has since tested positive (i.e. is a confirmed COVID-19 case)
  • The close contact has developed symptoms of COVID-19 and is waiting for their test results.

Do staff need to wear PPE when providing aged care services when there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the facility they work in but they have not had any contact with this case?

Aged care workers do not need to wear PPE when providing aged care services if they have had no close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in their facility.

Click here for additional guidelines on the use of PPE when caring for patients in the non-inpatient setting.

If you have any questions about the use of PPE or if you require PPE, email agedcarecovidppe@health.gov.au

What advice and guidance is there for In-Home and Community Care Providers?

Following on from the Government’s In-Home and Community Aged Care COVID-19 Preparedness webinar on Friday 13 March 2020, Government have provided a response to some frequently asked questions posed during the webinar.

DOWNLOAD FULL FAQS HERE – UPDATED 24 Mar 2020 

Key advice includes:

• CHSP service provider responsibilities regarding not meeting service outputs for grant agreements;
• Delivery of CHSP services for urgent and immediate care needs before contact with My Aged Care;
• Increasing CHSP service flexibility provisions from 20 to 100 per cent across services within existing grant agreements;
• Delivery of CHSP Social Support Group activities;
• CHSP data reporting in the data exchange (DEX);
• Access to emergency respite services;
• Urgent time-limited CHSP top-up services for packaged home care recipients; and
• Interactions between home care providers, care recipients and care staff.

Government has committed to continue to build on this resource (including adding responses to questions already sent through).

Members should also note LASA has prepared a checklist for home care providers as you manage your response to the impact of Coronavirus COVID-19.

What paperwork is required to extend visa holders' hours beyond their previous 20 hour per week limit?

Student Visa Extensions

Providers of Commonwealth funded aged care services will temporarily be able to offer more hours to international students to ensure the care of senior and vulnerable Australians, as part of the campaign to combat the impact of coronavirus (COVID‑19).

Please find attached a ‘Letter of Comfort’ from the Department of Home Affairs which outlines this arrangement.

The Government’s original plan to ask providers to apply for extensions is not being pursued.

We need Personal Protective Equipment - where can we get it?

Aged care providers that require PPE must now email agedcarecovidppe@health.gov.au for all requests. (Emails previously sent to the National Stockpile address don’t need to be resent, and have been captured in this new, dedicated aged care process).

All requests will be triaged by the Department of Health with priority given to facilities, programs and carers where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The following information must be provided in your email request:

  • The facility, program or service requiring PPE (add your State/Territory in the subject heading also);
  • If you have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your facility, program or service;
  • Types and quantities of PPE required – please note, only masks are available at this stage and other PPE will be provided when available; and
  • Details of other suppliers you have attempted to source PPE stock from.

If your facility, program or service is experiencing an outbreak of influenza the above process applies.

Requests can be made by residential care providers, CHSP providers and any workers providing support to people receiving aged care support living in the community. The Department of Health will triage your request to determine priority and may be in contact with you for further information.

Once approved the request for supplies will be shared with the National Incident Room who will work with your State or Territory Government to distribute the supplies. The Department advises that if you do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within your facility, program or service you should expect delays in receiving your PPE due to the increase in demand.

We know that access to PPE is an urgent and pressing issue for many Members and we are urgently advocating to the Department on issues that you are facing. Please let us know if you are facing critical difficulties and we will escalate with the Department.

When can an aged care worker be released from isolation?

CDNA Guidance (21 March) advised:

All cases who have specimens taken at clinical recovery can be released from isolation if they meet the criteria below.

Healthcare workers and workers in aged care facilities must meet the following criteria for release from isolation.

A confirmed case can be released from isolation if they meet all of the following criteria:

• the person has been afebrile (without fever) for the previous 48 hours;
• resolution of the acute illness for the previous 24 hours*;
• be at least 7 days after the onset of the acute illness;
• PCR negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected 24 hours apart after the acute illness has resolved** – this will be reviewed as the pandemic evolves in Australia.

* Some people may have pre-existing illnesses with chronic respiratory signs or symptoms, such as chronic cough. For these people, the treating medical practitioner should make an assessment as to whether the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 have resolved.

** If the patient has a productive cough due to a pre-existing respiratory illness or other ongoing lower respiratory tract disease, then the sputum or other lower respiratory tract specimens must be PCR negative for SARS-CoV-2. Otherwise upper respiratory tract specimens (nasopharyngeal or nose and throat swabs) must be PCR negative.

A small proportion of people may have an illness that has completely resolved but their respiratory specimens remain persistently PCR positive. A decision on release from isolation for these people should be made on a case-by-case basis after consultation between the person’s treating medical practitioner, the testing laboratory and public health, Results of viral culture, if available, may be included in this consideration.

What are the ACFI requirements for assessment and delivery of allied health services during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The Department of Health appreciates that a service with limited allied health professional resourcing due to staff unavailability or COVID-19, would manage on-going care needs by diverting their resourcing to essential care. The Department is working with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to get further advice on workforce issues.

The Department of Health have confirmed their approach, should there be a future ACFI review of your service which happens to relate to the time in which the COVID-19 outbreak was occurring. The key points are:

  • to ensure an ACFI review officer can consider any exceptional circumstances that may have occurred during the COVID-19 outbreak, it is essential that your service documents the rationale for suspending certain care and what was implemented to ensure the needs of residents were met

  • please note at an ACFI review your service may be requested to show evidence as to why an allied health professional was unavailable to deliver the treatment.

Your clinical team is best placed to advise what alternate care would be delivered by staff in circumstances where it is not possible for treatments to be delivered by an allied health professional.

When the ACFI allied health services are able to be safely recommenced, your service must maintain records as set out in the ACFI User Guide.

If a staff member works for multiple organisations, how do we track back exposed risk?

Public health authorities are skilled at undertaking exposed risk. It’s not the role of service providers to investigate exposed risk of any workforce or client diagnosed with COVID-19. Once someone is confirmed with COVID-19, your local public health authority will determine who, if anyone, has been in close contact with them while they were infectious, and these people will be directed to self-isolate.

What precautions should people take when providing services in peoples' own homes?
Guidance for employees, volunteers and contractors visiting clients at home

Employees, volunteers and contractors must not visit a client’s home if they or another person in their home is under quarantine, investigation or is a suspected case.

If an employee, volunteer or contractor is asked to attend to a client who is in quarantine or under investigation, they are requested to:

  • identify the urgency of the client’s support needs and discuss solutions and options with the client on how to deliver the service whilst safeguarding their quarantine period (e.g., leaving meals at the door, arranging home delivery services, utilising the assistance of others who are living with the person)
  • If the client requires medical treatment, we expect them to:
    • telephone their doctor or local hospital Emergency Department to discuss how they can access medical treatment
    • if they are experiencing severe symptoms, they are to call 000 and advise the operator that they are in self-quarantine because of suspected COVID-19 risk.
Given the recent announcements is it possible for a facility to continue with infrastructure capital works?

Where significant works have already commenced and with the stringent risk management strategies, such as monitoring the health of the building workers on site daily, the ability to cordon off the building works until the final stage of connection, it would be of more risk to stop the works.

If the works continue past 1 May 2020, the building workers will all need to show evidence of having had their influenza vaccinations. – All persons coming into the aged care facility are required to have a flu vaccination from 1 May 2020

What should happen with those who have been in contact?
A close contact is defined as requiring:

  • greater than 15 minutes face-to-face contact in any setting with a confirmed case in the period extending from 24 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed case; or
  • sharing of a closed space with a confirmed case for a prolonged period (e.g. more than 2 hours) in the period extending from 24 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed case.

For the purposes of surveillance, a close contact includes a person meeting any of the following criteria:

  • Living in the same household or household-like setting (e.g. in a boarding school or hostel);
  • Direct contact with the body fluids or laboratory specimens of a case without recommended PPE or failure of PPE.;
  • A person who spent 2 hours or longer in the same room (eg. communal room in an aged care facility); or
  • A person in the same hospital room when an aerosol generating procedure is undertaken on the case, without recommended PPE.

Casual contact is defined as any person having less than 15 minutes face-to-face contact with a symptomatic confirmed case in any setting, or sharing a closed space with a symptomatic confirmed case for less than 2 hours. This will include healthcare workers, other patients, or visitors who were in the same closed healthcare space as a case, but for shorter periods than those required for a close contact. Other closed settings might include schools or offices.

Note that healthcare workers and other contacts who have taken recommended infection control precautions, including the use of full PPE, while caring for a symptomatic confirmed COVID-19 case are not considered to be close contacts.

Healthcare workers who have used appropriate PPE effectively are not considered to be at risk of exposure. However, in case of unknown PPE breach, they should be advised to self-monitor and if they develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 they should isolate themselves and notify their public health unit or staff health unit so they can be tested and managed as a suspected COVID-19 case (see recommendations below under Management of symptomatic contacts).

Other casual contacts may include extended family groups.

Asymptomatic close contacts should be advised to self-quarantine at home for 14 days following the last contact with the case, and to monitor their health for 14 days after the last possible contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Self-quarantined close contacts should be advised on the processes for seeking medical care.

A medical clearance from a health care provider is not required for release from quarantine.

Casual contacts should monitor their health for 14 days and report any symptoms immediately to the local public health unit. There are no restrictions on movements; however, casual contacts should be advised to isolate themselves and contact the public health unit if they develop symptoms.

What, how and when should there be isolation and restriction?
Confirmed cases will generally be managed in hospital. If clinically indicated, cases may be managed at home only if it can be ensured that the case and household contacts are counselled about risk and that appropriate infection control measures are in place.

In addition to standard precautions, interim recommendations for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during clinical care of people with possible COVID-19 are:

  • Contact and droplet precautions are recommended for routine care of patients in quarantine or with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
What should happen to those who have returned from overseas?

Returned travellers are defined as those who have undertaken international travel to any country outside Australia in the last 14 days.
Different recommendations apply in management based on the risk assessment for different countries (see table)

Returned travellers who have travelled in or transited through mainland China, Italy, Iran or South Korea should self-quarantine at home for 14 days after leaving the higher risk country. Self-quarantined returned travellers should be advised on the processes for seeking medical care. See Medical care for quarantined individuals.

All returned travellers who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days should self-monitor for symptoms, practise social distancing when outside the workplace and immediately isolate themselves if they become unwell.

Social distancing is an effective measure, but it is recognised that it cannot be practised in all situations and the aim is to generally reduce the potential for transmission. Whilst practising social distancing, people can travel to work (including by public transport) and carry out normal duties. Social distancing outside the workplace is aimed at nonessential activities and includes:

  • Avoiding crowds and mass gatherings
  • Avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces, for example family celebrations.
  • Attempting to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people where possible, for example when out and about in public spaces.

All returned travellers who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days who are unwell with fever, or with respiratory symptoms (with or without fever) or other symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should be isolated and managed as per the current recommendations for suspected cases.

Healthcare workers and other staff with close patient/resident/client contact who work in hospitals or aged care should take additional precautions given they come into contact with a high case load of potentially vulnerable patients. Staff should stay away from work for 14 days.

All healthcare workers should observe usual infection prevention and control practises in the workplace.

All healthcare workers and staff who have close patient/resident/client contact who have returned from any higher risk country should be advised not to undertake work in a health care aged care for 14 days since leaving the higher risk country.

RiskCountry returning fromGeneral actionsAction
Higher riskMainland China
Italy
Iran
South Korea
Self-quarantine for 14 daysNo work for 14 days
Moderate riskAll other locations outside AustraliaSelf-monitor for 14 days
Practise social distancing
Isolate if unwell
Can return to work if well (see note below for aged care)

Table correct as at 16 March 2020.

Healthcare workers, who are close contacts should be advised not to undertake work in a healthcare or aged care for 14 days following the last possible contact with the case. They should also be advised to self-quarantine at home for 14 days following the last contact with the case.

Public Health Units may assist infection control units of health facilities to identify and monitor healthcare worker close contacts.

What does it mean for employers?
Beyond ordinary infection control measures that employers in aged care are required to implement under the Aged Care Quality Standards, employers should:

  • Educate staff and consumers what to do if they feel unwell;
  • Identify key staff and contingency plan for if they are unable to come to work;
  • Ensure staff who have travelled overseas (see table below) take appropriate action. This should be extended to all care staff
  • Request that consumers in the community who are in quarantine advise the provider; and
  • Identify vulnerable consumers in the community and develop a plan for service continuity if staff shortages occur.

Information published by Fair Work Australia advises that employers should provide information and brief all employees, volunteers and contractors, including domestic and cleaning staff where applicable, on relevant information and procedures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. You should inform staff who meet the above criteria that they should remain isolated in their home.

If an employee is at risk of infection from coronavirus (for example, because the employee has recently travelled through mainland China, or has been in close contact with someone who has the virus or is suspected to have the virus), the employer should request the employee seek medical clearance from a doctor and to work from home (if possible), or not work during the risk period. Where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee not to work, the employee would ordinarily be entitled to be paid while subject to the direction.  Employers should consider their obligations under any applicable enterprise agreement, award, employees’ contracts of employment, and workplace policies.

What does it mean for employees?
Healthcare workers and others who come into contact with suspected and confirmed cases must be protected according to recommended infection control guidelines. Visitors should be restricted to close family members, following injection control guidelines.

Where staff are working in the community providing home care information on the risk status of the clients they are visiting should be checked with each client.

Staff working in the community should not visit people at home who are suspected or confirmed cases, without appropriate supervision of the Public Health Unit.

Employees should advise their employer if they develop symptoms during the isolation period, particularly if they have been in the workplace.

Employees should comply with the requirements for returned travellers FAQ 16.

How do I go about organising testing?
Those who meet the suspect case definition should be tested for SARS-CoV-2. Consult with your state/territory communicable diseases agency to seek advice on which laboratories can provide SARS-CoV-2 testing; appropriate specimen type, collection and transport; and also to facilitate contact management if indicated.

Details of Public Health Units are available here.

When collecting respiratory specimens, transmission-based precautions should be observed whether or not respiratory symptoms are present.

For most patients with mild illness in the community, collection of upper respiratory specimens (i.e. nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs) is a low risk procedure and can be performed using contact and droplet precautions:

  • Perform hand hygiene before donning gown, gloves, eye protection (goggles or face shield), and surgical mask.
  • To collect throat or nasopharyngeal swab stand slightly to the side of the patient to avoid exposure to respiratory secretions, should the patient cough or sneeze.
  • At completion of consultation, remove personal protective equipment (PPE) and perform hand hygiene, wipe any contacted/contaminated surfaces with detergent /disinfectant.
  • Note that, for droplet precautions, the room does not need to be left empty after sample collection.

If the person has severe symptoms suggestive of pneumonia, e.g. fever and breathing difficulty, or frequent, severe or productive coughing episodes then contact and airborne precautions should be observed. People with these symptoms should be managed in hospital, call 000 for assistance.

Public Health Unit staff should be available to contribute to the expert assessment of patients under investigation. The response to a notification will normally be carried out in collaboration with the clinicians managing the case, and be guided by the COVID-19 public health unit checklist and the COVID-19 investigation form (currently pending).

What are the types of cases?

Confirmed case
A person who tests positive to a validated specific SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test or has the virus identified by electron microscopy or viral culture.

Probable case
A person, who has not been tested, with fever (≥38°C)1 or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) AND who is a household contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, where testing has not been conducted.

Suspect case
A person who meets the following epidemiological and clinical criteria:

Epidemiological criteriaClinical criteriaAction
Very high risk
• Close contact in the 14 days prior to illness onset with a confirmed case
• International travel in the 14 days prior to illness onset
• Cruise ship passengers and crew who have travelled in the 14 days prior to illness onset
Fever (≥38°C) or history of fever
OR
Acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat)
Test
High risk setting
1. Two or more plausibly-linked cases of illness clinically consistent with COVID-19 (see clinical criteria) in the following settings:
• Aged care and other residential care facilities
• Military – group residential and other closed settings, such as Navy ships or living in accommodation
• Boarding schools
• Correctional facilities
• Detention centres
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rural and remote communities, in consultation with the local PHU
• Settings where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, in consultation with the local PHU

2. People who, in the 14 days prior to illness onset lived in or travelled through a geographically localised area with elevated risk of community transmission, as defined by public health authorities.
Fever (≥38°C) or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills)
OR
acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat)
In certain high risk outbreak settings, public health units may consider testing asymptomatic contacts to inform management of the outbreak
Test (on site for aged care residents, where feasible)
Geographically localised areas with elevated risk of community transmission
Moderate risk
Healthcare workers, aged or residential care workersFever (≥38°C) or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat)Test
Background risk
(No epidemiological risk factors)
Hospitalised patients with fever (≥38°C)1 AND acute respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) of an unknown cause. Clinical judgement should be exercised in testing hospitalised patients. All patients should attend an emergency department if clinical deterioration occurs.Test

 

What security of tenure arrangements apply during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Department of Health has provided the following guidance regarding issues raised by Members in relation to security of tenure concerns. 

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 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. More information on the security of tenure for aged care residents and the user rights principles can be found here.