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4 April 2020

Today we have a release from the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, regarding flu vaccinations for aged care workers. There is also an update from the ASQSC and some advice from Dementia Support Australia.

Thank you for your continued support to protect older Australians from COVID-19.

In this edition:

What's New

AGED CARE WORKERS MUST GET FLU VACCINATION

Aged Care workers are being urged to get their flu vaccination now ahead of the season in a bid to protect themselves and the Senior Australians they care for.

Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck said while every flu season is serious, the spread of COVID-19 means it’s critical every worker is vaccinated.

“Our Aged Care workers are doing an exceptional job caring for our most vulnerable Australians in very challenging circumstances,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Senior Australians are the most at risk from serious illness from the flu, which is why it is essential that care workers are vaccinated.

“While flu vaccination does not prevent COVID-19, a flu vaccination is critical to protecting the health of Senior Australians, who are more susceptible to contracting influenza.

“I am urging all care workers who work with older Australians, whether through residential facilities or in-home care, to heed this advice and get vaccinated against the flu.”

Every year, Residential Aged Care Providers are required to a free flu vaccination program to their staff.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the key medical decision-making committee for health emergencies, has advised that all residential aged care staff and visiting workers should be vaccinated by 1 May 2020.

State and Territories have issued directions to give effect to these requirements. These directions will be enforced and persons who fail to comply could face penalties including fines for individuals and for bodies corporate. Providers should consult their State or Territory Government.

Read more here.

UPDATE FROM THE ACQSC - ASSESSMENT CONTACTS OF HOME SERVICES ON PREPARING FOR COVID-19 

In early April, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will be contacting all approved providers of home care services by telephone to monitor and support them in their preparation for a COVID-19 outbreak.

This assessment contact will involve a regulatory official from the Commission contacting the provider to discuss their responsibilities under the Aged Care Quality Standards, focussing on infection control.

The telephone call is not an assessment of performance against the Standards. The call will take approximately 10 minutes and arrangements will be made to call back if the provider is busy at the time of the call.

Please note preliminary phone calls have already been made to some home care services to confirm correct contact details. Thank you for assisting the Commission with this process.

We thank all approved providers for their ongoing efforts to protect older Australians at this critical time.

REMINDER FOR RACFs - COMPASSIONATE VISITS 

Aged care providers are asked to take particular care to balance the need to protect residents, staff and others from the risk of transmission of COVID-19, while supporting the rights and wellbeing of residents and their families. Particular care and compassion should be given to people in palliative care and those nearing end of life.

DEMENTIA BEHAVIOUR SUPPORT IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC

Dementia Support Australia (providers of DBMAS and SBRT) have developed advice to help aged care providers deliver the best possible support for people experiencing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) during this difficult time.

See: Restrictive practices: understanding and managing behaviours in a time of pandemic.

Dementia Support Australia (DSA) continues to support all aged care services, whether your home or service is in lockdown or not. DSA’s Dementia Consultants are still providing face to face visits, or phone or video conference consultations depending on your preference. Call their 24 hour service on 1800 699 799 or visit www.dementia.com.au.

COVID-19 GUIDE FOR PROVIDERS OF IN HOME AGED CARE

A guide to assist Home Care and Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) providers who provide care to older people living at home is now available on the Department of Health’s website. This guide provides information and guidance on how to stay safe from COVID-19 including how providers can prepare their organisation, equipment and resources, and how staff and clients can manage COVID-19.

Other resources are available to assist the sector including online training modules and a collection of guides and factsheets. These are being updated as the situation evolves.

Resources

New Material from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission 

The posters have been developed to supplement the CDNA National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia. The CDNA guidelines include a flow chart for managing COVID-19 in residential facilities. The posters take this flow chart and present it in a way that may be easier for facilities to see what they need to do for their particular circumstances.

Find the resources here.

Training modules
Five modules are available for completion as part of the Department of Health’s eLearning program for Aged Care workers. The training includes Personal Safety, Families and Visitors, Outbreak Management and PPE.

Click here to register and access the training modules.

Factsheets
All Aged Care factsheets that are publicly available on the Department of Health site are being updated to reflect recent announcements. Thank you for your patience while these updates are processed.

Coming Soon

  • Updated FAQs
  • Workforce continuity measures
  • Additional PPE resources for the aged care sector
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