Protecting Older Australians: COVID-19 Update

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Australian Department of Health – Press Release: 5 March 2021

Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information via this newsletter.

This edition includes information about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, including a reminder about consent of the COVID-19 vaccine, advice that GPs who provide care within RACFs are included in phase 1a, details about support for senior Australians from CALD backgrounds and information about the Australian Defence Force supporting COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

This edition also contains a link to a short online survey that can be taken to assist the National Review of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Australian RACFs being conducted by Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly.

This edition also includes information on delays in assessing applications for the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program.

New social media resources designed to help aged care providers and staff share information on grief and loss support.

The latest directions from Western Australia’s health authorities on visitations to RACFs are also included in this edition, which contain advice for quarantine centre workers visiting RACFs.

Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams and encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter.

Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

In this edition:


What’s New

COVID-19 vaccine consent – a reminder

Residential aged care providers are responsible for keeping consent records for all residents.

Vaccine workforce providers may request a copy of residents’ consent records from the residential aged care facility. Residential aged care facilities can provide this on request, however, must retain the original consent records on site.

As a reminder, residential aged care providers are responsible for obtaining and recording resident consent for the COVID-19 vaccine. This must be completed ahead of the vaccination day.

You must obtain consent for both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. You can obtain consent for both doses at the same time, prior to the first dose.

GPs who provide care within RACFs included in phase 1a

GPs who routinely provide care within a residential facility are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under the classification of aged care staff as part of phase 1a of the national rollout strategy.

Currently, the vaccine rollout is prioritising delivering doses to residents. Where a GP who routinely provides care at the facility is present on the day of vaccination, they may be vaccinated if there are excess doses after all consenting residents have been vaccinated.

Supporting senior Australians from CALD backgrounds

Supporting senior Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds during the COVID-19 vaccination program rollout is important.

The Department is working with Primary Health Networks and aged care provider peak organisations to identify facilities and services that have residents from diverse CALD backgrounds. This will enable us to work together to ensure we can provide all Australians and their families reliable and trusted information about COVID-19 vaccination.

We encourage RACFs with residents from CALD backgrounds to contact your local PHN and provide your feedback as well as suggestions for additional support or resources that would benefit your residents and their families.

Available translated resources include:

Australian Defence Force supporting COVID-19 vaccine rollout

As part of the continued expansion of the phase 1A COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Australian Defence Force will provide supplementary support to the rollout of vaccines to Australians in aged care.

Defence’s support to the vaccine rollout will focus on vaccinating senior Australians in locations not readily accessible by other medical providers.

The teams are expected to start next week and will build on the planning, logistics, and operations support Defence personnel are already providing to the Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Taskforce.

Keep up to date with trusted information
You can find more information, including translated information, and subscribe to receive the COVID-19 Vaccines Updates on our COVID-19 vaccines website.

National review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian RACFs – survey now open

Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly have been commissioned by the Department of Health to undertake a national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities.

RACF managers (or equivalent) are invited to complete a short online survey about the facility’s preparation for and, if an outbreak occurred, management of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The data will be collected and analysed by the University of Sydney. Survey responses will remain anonymous and no individual RACF will be identifiable. The feedback and analysis will be an invaluable contribution to the report and recommendations to the Department of Health.

The survey will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Your input is critical to continuous improvement in the management of potential COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care. Thank you in advance.

The survey will close at 5.00pm (AEST) Wednesday 17 March 2021.

Delays in assessing applications for the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program

The COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program is a $61.3 million grant opportunity announced as part of the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Health Package. The Program reimburses eligible aged care providers who are directly impacted by COVID-19.

High volumes of applications received between December 2020 and February 2021 are impacting assessment timeframes. Applicants should expect delays in processing times, with the expected timeframe from submission to payment likely to be approximately 6 weeks.

The department is working to ensure applications are assessed as quickly as possible and we thank providers for their patience while we finalise assessments.

The department would like to advise applicants that the Government has agreed that applications received up to the grant closing date of 31 May 2021 can continue to be assessed and reimbursement of eligible expenditure paid beyond 30 June 2021.

To apply or find out more information about this grant, visit the GrantConnect website and search for GO3844 COVID19 – Aged Care Support Program.

Social media content to help you share information about grief supports for aged care

The Department is creating resources to help you share information about the grief and trauma supports for aged care, and will provide more information on where to find downloadable content and how to order printed resources for your facility.

In the interim we have created social media tiles and accompanying text on the grief and loss support for your organisations to share.

There are posts aimed at highlighting the free support that is available for aged care recipients, their families and loved ones, as well as aged care staff.

The Australian Centre for grief and bereavement can also help aged care providers, religious and community groups to support their communities with grief and loss due to COVID-19. Phone 1800 222 200for advice on how to help your organisation or community.

WA updated directions advice for aged care providers and visitors

Please be advised that Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions (Directions No 4) have been revoked and that Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions No 7 (Directions No 7) are now in effect.

Providers and their staff are encouraged to read the direction in full. The changes include a requirement for quarantine centre workers who attend residential aged care facilities to wear a face covering and to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from any other person while on the premises of a residential aged care facility.

Resources

Updated Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Directive | Aged Care Weekly

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