Upcoming Webinar: Aged care COVID-19 update – 26 June 2023
The Department of Health and Aged Care is holding a webinar that will include updated information on COVID-19 booster doses for older people as well as on the importance of continued visitations during outbreaks for people living in aged care homes.
When: Monday 26 June 2023 11.00am to 12.00pm (AEST).
Please register to attend.
There will be a moderated Q&A session with Departmental officials, and we encourage you to submit questions in advance through the registration link.
Val Fell OAM, member of the Older Persons Advocacy Network’s (OPAN’s) National Older Persons Reference Group, Council of Elders and COTA Ambassador recently sat down with Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Professor Michael Kidd AO, to discuss the latest COVID-19 updates for people living in aged care. The discussion is informative for age care providers, older people and their loved ones and includes the latest information including COVID-19 vaccine boosters, flu vaccines, isolation requirements and older peoples’ rights in aged care.
The video is available to watch on the OPAN website and we encourage you to share this with your colleagues and care recipients: OPAN – Val Fell OAM and Prof Michael Kidd COVID-19 aged care update.
It is important that residents have every opportunity to receive a 2023 COVID-19 booster dose.
If you are 65 years or over, we strongly recommend you get a 2023 COVID-19 booster vaccine. You can have a 2023 booster dose if it has been 6 months or more since your last COVID-19 infection or vaccine. It is still safe to get a booster even if you are unsure if you have had COVID-19 in the last 6 months.
A COVID-19 booster is the best way to protect yourself from severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19, especially now that we are in winter.
The COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary but strongly encouraged for residents in aged care homes and all people over 65.
Where available, we encourage the bivalent vaccine as this offers additional protection against the original COVID-19 virus and the most recent Omicron variants.
Providers and families of older people have an important role to play in offering and recommending the 2023 COVID-19 vaccination boosters to residents. If residents, care recipients or their families have concerns about getting the booster, having early conversations and encouraging them to talk to their doctor or other health professional about the benefits and risks of vaccination can help.
There are many ways to get a COVID-19 booster this winter:
- Book an appointment with your GP or pharmacist
- By text: the Easy Vaccine Access (EVA) service is an easy way to book your COVID-19 vaccination. Text ‘Hey EVA’ to 0481 611 382 to get a call back from a call agent
- By phone: 1800 020 080 is a 24-hour helpline that can help you find a vaccine clinic and give you contact information to make a booking
- Find a health service that provides vaccinations on the Online service finder.
Residential aged care providers can still apply for funding to support registered and enrolled nurses to complete specialist IPC Lead Nurse training until 30 June 2023.
Support is available up to a maximum of $13,020.00 per eligible nurse, for up to 2 registered or enrolled nurses in each eligible residential aged care home, for costs relating to:
- fees for eligible IPC training courses
- wages for study leave
- wages for backfilling for nurses undertaking study.
Nurses must commence eligible IPC Training courses between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023, and complete courses no later than 31 December 2023.
This funding provides support for more nurses in residential aged care to access IPC Lead Nurse training. Highly skilled staff will ensure residential aged care homes are well prepared to prevent or manage future infectious disease outbreaks including influenza and COVID-19.
For an IPC specialist course to be deemed suitable, it must:
- focus on infection prevention and control
- be specified at the level of AQF8
- be delivered by a recognised education or training provider
- have an assessment, or assessments, that facilitate successful completion of the course.
The grant opportunity opened 1 December 2022 and applications close at 2pm 30 June 2023 (AEST).
Find out more about this Grant Opportunity: Aged Care Infection Prevention and Control Training (GO5867) on the GrantConnect website.
It is important that aged care providers continue to follow current Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidelines and advice to manage the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Using RAT kits to screen aged care residents, staff and visitors for COVID-19 is part of a range of risk management options that residential aged care homes can use.
The Australian Government continues to provide a weekly supply of RAT kits to all residential aged care homes for surveillance screening of staff and visitors. These will be delivered without you needing to place a request.
Should you wish to opt out of receiving this supply or alter the quantity and/or frequency of supply please contact the Department by email: [email protected].
Having effective surveillance testing in place will let you detect COVID-19 much earlier and enact a swifter response.
We recommend conducting surveillance screening of staff at least 2 times per week and not more than 72 hours apart, or on entry for each visitor. This should increase to daily testing of staff, visitors and residents during an outbreak to help minimise the spread of infections.
Visitors can use their own RAT kits prior to their visit and may be asked to provide evidence of their test result.
It is inappropriate for homes to charge for the use of RAT kits provided by the Australian Government through the National Medical Stockpile (NMS).
On 4 May 2023, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved a combination rapid antigen test (RAT) kit TouchBio RSV, FLU A/B & Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Combo for self-testing (ARTG 408459) to aid in the diagnosis of COVID-19, Influenza A, Influenza B and RSV. Details about the kit can be accessed on the TGA website and includes instructions for use.
The NMS will continue to support residential aged care homes with deployments of RATs to test for, and detect, COVID-19 in line with Australian Government policy.
If aged care providers would like a RAT with additional testing capabilities then these should be sourced through commercial supply arrangements.