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Friday, December 8, 2023

Updated nationwide COVID-19 information/restrictions for aged care providers

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As of June 26 until further notice, the NSW Chief Health Officer advises the following:

Facilities located in Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour) must:

  • exclude all visitors, except those providing essential caring functions
  • ensure that all staff and essential care visitors wear a surgical mask. For reasons when masks can be removed please see Additional Advice. All essential visits must be in the residents room
  • ensure that residents are provided with appropriate PPE and infection control advice if they need to leave the facility for essential purposes

For all other facilities located in NSW:

  • All staff and visitors must wear a surgical mask. For reasons when masks can be removed please see Additional Advice.
  • Only two visitors should be allowed each day
  • Visits should be in the resident’s room
  • No visitors are permitted from Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour).

Until further notice all staff providing home care services in Greater Sydney (including Central Coast, Nepean Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour) must wear a surgical mask. For reasons when masks can be removed please see Mandatory Mask Wearing.

A staff member or visitor may remove their mask:

  • while communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • if wearing a mask creates a risk to health and safety
  • where clear enunciation or visibility of your mouth is essential

Anyone removing a mask for one of these reasons should maintain 1.5m distance from others wherever possible.

This information can change rapidly so please check the NSW Health at least daily for updates.

Single site funding support extended to additional regions in New South Wales

In line with recent announcements from the New South Wales’ Government, single site workforce arrangements and Australian Government funding is being extended to all local government areas across Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Workers at residential aged care facilities in these areas are asked to limit their work to a single facility to reduce the risk of transmission and protect workers and residents. Australian Government grant funding is now available to support implementation of these arrangements during an initial two week period, from 26 June to 10 July. This is likely to be extended further if the risk of transmission continues.

Providers in these areas are asked to adjust their rosters as soon as possible and ensure staff are only working at one residential aged care facility within this region during this time. To the greatest extent possible, the employer should seek to match any hours no longer being worked with a secondary employer to ensure the worker is not financially disadvantaged.

Providers can access guidance on how to implement single site arrangements, including employee relations expertise, through the Guiding Principles Support Hub website or hotline on 1800 491 793. The Support Hub will be hosting a webinar in the coming week, with the Department of Health, to answer any questions. Further details will be available on the Support Hub website.

Where these arrangements result in additional workforce expenses, providers are able to seek reimbursement from the Australian Government through the Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) Grant. The SACWIC grant opportunity remains open until 30 December 2021.

QLD Health CHO update

The Queensland Chief Health Officer (CHO) has directed that anyone in Queensland who has been to the LGAs of Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick or the City of Sydney since 1am on June 11 must follow the stay at home requirements in the Interstate Places of Concern (Stay at home in Queensland) Direction. This took effect at 1am on June 26.

The direction prevents affected people from leaving home to work in a vulnerable setting including hospitals, aged care facilities, disability accommodation services and to provide NDIS services.

We anticipate that this particular direction will be updated to mirror the new COVID 19 hot spots in Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shell Harbour in New South Wales, please keep up to date with the latest advice on the Qld Health website.

ACT Health CHO update

ACT Health has today issued advice for high risk settings due to growing lists of COVID-19 exposure locations in NSW, QLD and VIC.

A new COVID-19 Areas of Concern Notice will come into effect at 6pm on 26 June 2021 that requires anyone who has been in the Greater Sydney region, including Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong local government areas (LGA) on or after 12:01am on 21 June 2021 to Stay At Home.

The current geographical areas of risk in Australia include:

  • Greater Metropolitan Melbourne
  • All Greater Sydney LGAs, including Blue Mountains, Central Coast, and Wollongong

Staff and visitors who have been in a geographical area of risk should not attend a high-risk setting for 14 days after leaving the affected area.

Anyone who has been in the Shellharbour LGA (and no other Greater Sydney LGA) in the past 14 days should wear a mask while attending a high-risk setting.

Staff and visitors who are under a stay-at-home requirement under a Public Health Direction must not attend a high-risk setting and should not provide home-based aged care unless it is for an approved essential purpose. Further information about the stay-at-home requirement can be found here.

ACT aged care providers can find out more information from ACT Government.

Who to notify if you have a confirmed case

All confirmed cases of a RACF resident or staff member must be notified to:

You must contact your state or territory public health unit immediately to report positive COVID-19 cases in either staff members or care recipients

  • Australian Capital Territory – (02) 5124 9213 After Hours: 02 9962 4155
  • New South Wales – 1300 066 055
  • Northern Territory – 08 8922 8044
  • Queensland – 13 432 584 (13 HEALTH)
  • South Australia – 1300 232 272
  • Tasmania – 1800 671 738
  • Victoria – 1300 651 160
  • Western Australia – 08 9222 8588 or 08 6373 2222 (if confirmed COVID-19)

All aged care providers should also notify positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test results by email to the Australian Department of Health: agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Aged care providers are asked to ensure they have a sufficient supply of PPE, to use their own supply of PPE first and to request extra supply for emergency purposes as and when needed.

The Commonwealth is prioritising requests for PPE from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need.

The deployment of PPE is only where commercial supply is unavailable, and where there is a government direction regarding COVID-19 PPE requirements or demonstrated clinical need.

If you urgently need PPE and cannot source it, please submit an online application. The application will need to be completed for your request to be considered.

OPAN Services

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is an independent, free service to support older people and their family members during COVID-19.

Families can call OPAN on 1800 700 600 if they would like to talk with someone about the COVID-19 situation and its impact, or if worried about a loved one and need to talk to someone.

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