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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

New COVID-19 vaccine record keeping and reporting requirements start next week

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New weekly reporting requirements on COVID-19 vaccination status recently introduced for all residential, Home Care Package (HCP) and Short-term Restorative Care (STRC) providers will come into effect on Tuesday, July 27.

From this date, Residential Aged Care Providers will use the My Aged Care provider portal to submit weekly reports on the total number of residents at each service and, of those, the number of residents and workers at each service who have received a single dose or all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

This is in addition to the current reporting of workforce COVID-19 vaccination.

The new requirement applies to all providers of residential aged care facilities and Multi-Purpose Services (MPS), flexible aged care providers of STRC delivered in a residential aged care setting, and providers of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) who operate residential services.

From Tuesday, July 27, providers of HCP and STRC services will be required to use the My Aged Care provider portal to submit weekly reports on the total number of workers for each service and, of those, the number of workers at each service who have received a single dose or all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

More detailed information on the reporting requirements, together with answers to frequently asked questions, can be found on the department’s website.

IPC lead operations during COVID-19 outbreaks

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) leads have a particularly important role to play during COVID-19 outbreaks.

As the onsite IPC specialist, IPC leads are relied on to ensure that appropriate procedures are put in place to minimise and manage the risk to aged care residents and workers.

When there is a confirmed COVID-19 case at a facility (i.e. when a resident, worker or other visitor at the facility has tested positive for COVID-19) it is expected that the IPC lead will be dedicated to management of the outbreak.

IPC leads should be aware that the Department of Health, or other government representatives, may seek to contact them directly to discuss matters relevant to the outbreak.

To enable this, aged care providers should ensure their outbreak management planning includes preparing workforce arrangements to cover any other responsibilities the IPC lead may have, including regular nursing tasks.

From December 1 last year, each residential aged care facility has been required to appoint a nurse as the lead person for infection prevention and control.

More information on IPC leads, including training requirements, is available on the department’s website.

Reminder about emergency access to CHSP services

As part of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, older Australians can access emergency CHSP services for up to eight weeks without an assessment in COVID-19 affected areas and where there remains an urgent need.

CHSP providers who have delivered emergency COVID-19 support to clients for eight weeks without an aged care assessment, and where the client requires ongoing services, are reminded these clients need to be assessed by a Regional Assessment Service (RAS).

The provider is encouraged to add a note to an existing client’s record detailing the urgent COVID-19 services they are receiving to assist the assessor at the assessment.

In non-urgent circumstances, services should not commence before an assessment.

Extension of the COVID-19 support line

The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line has been extended until December 31 to ensure senior Australians get the services and assistance they need during COVID-19.

The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line was set up to provide information, support and connection for older Australians during the period of social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Support Line is a joint initiative between COTA Australia, National Seniors, Dementia Australia and the Older Person’s Advocacy Network, supported by funding from the Australian Government.

Older Australians, their families, friends and carers can FREECALL 1800 171 866 if they:

  • would like to talk with someone about the COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on them
  • are caring for someone and need some information or a listening ear
  • need help with questions or concerns about residential aged care, visitation or home care services
  • need help to access new care services or essential supplies such as shopping
  • are concerned about themselves, a friend or family member living with dementia; or
  • would like to arrange a one-off or regular wellbeing check for themselves, or someone else.

Home support service providers can also use the number and dial option 1 to refer home care or CHSP clients who would like a call from an independent organisation to check on their wellbeing.

These wellbeing checks are open to older Australians who have elected to defer their home support services during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as those who may need some extra support and have some concerns.

In parts of the country with community transmission, especially as new COVID-19 restrictions are announced, the Support Line can provide older Australians who are not digitally connected the ability to speak with someone who has been able to research specific questions and provide them the latest government advice over the phone.

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