COVID-19 Aged Care Response Plan: A Snapshot

It comes with great relief to see a steady downward trend of daily COVID-19 infections in Victoria, with 41 new cases recorded as of 13th September. This comes after 37 new cases were recorded on 12th September – the lowest figure since June 25, at the start of the state’s second wave. It was also the tenth consecutive day where cases have been below 100! 

Full 13th September media release about the number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria can be found here: https://bit.ly/2FAvBGU 

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the preventative measures undertaken in the aged care sector as a part of the COVID-19 response plan to protect our senior Australians. 

In fact, we have compiled a list of these preventative actions below in order to give you a clear snapshot of what is currently being done to contribute to the decline of COVID-19 cases in Victoria. 

For Residential Care, the following actions have been taken: 

Provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) 

  • A range of resources and online training on the use of PPE is available on the Department’s website for aged care workers.  
  • Since March 2020, the Australian Government has been working with state and territory governments to ensure aged care facilities have sufficient PPE.  
  • Over half a billion masks and approximately 52 million gowns, 261 million gloves, and 44 million goggles/face shields have been ordered for staggered delivery into the NMS through to January 2021. 

Workforce in active residential aged care outbreaks 

  • As part of the aged care response, significant surge workforce assistance has been provided by both state and National Aged Care Emergency Response (NACER) teams, with many workers deployed from interstate.  
  • The number of Commonwealth funded surge staff that have been deployed to Victorian aged care services exceeds 1000. 

Infection control & audits  

  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are undertaking Infection Control Monitoring (ICM) visits to observe infection control practices, to ensure that staff, management and visitors are adhering to safe personal protective equipment protocols and to safe infection control arrangements.  
  • This program is in addition to the Commission’s usual assessment and auditing program, and includes unannounced visits to residential aged care services, without an outbreak, to check compliance with PPE and infection control arrangements. 

Testing of aged care residents & staff 

  • The Australian Government has engaged Sonic Healthcare to provide a dedicated pathology service for the testing of suspected cases of COVID-19 in residential aged care facilities.  
  • The service is intended to supplement existing public health pathology services in aged care through the provision of services from the private sector as required.  
  • As at 1 September, Sonic has conducted 126,680 COVID-19 tests at 1794 unique residential aged care facilities nationally.  
  • This includes 110,352 COVID-19 tests at 520 unique residential aged care facilities in Victoria. 

For further information, take a look at the Department of Health’s ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines for infection prevention and control in residential care facilities’ here: https://bit.ly/3hrS3PO 

For Home Care, the following actions have been taken: 

Emergency Funding for CHSP Providers 

The Australian Government is providing additional funding to support Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) service providers during COVID-19. Emergency funding of $191.6 million includes:  

  • $141.6 million for ad hoc proposals.  
  • $50 million for additional meals services.  

Providers may use this funding to:  

  • Meet increased demand for services. 
  • Retain key workforce.  
  • Adapt to the changing aged care environment.  
  • Cover the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE). 
  • Deliver services to residents on short-term leave from aged care homes. 

Tier 1 Clinical support for residents who re-locate from aged care homes significantly impacted by COVID-19 

  • A national model of emergency support is available to aged care home residents temporarily returning to the community due to COVID-19.  
  • Support is available for up to eight weeks. 

CHSP can be accessed without an assessment if services are needed urgently 

  • This includes the need for short-term services due to COVID-19. 
  •  In all other non-urgent situations, CHSP services should not start before an assessment has taken place. 

As you can see from the information above, be rest assured that aged care facilities and providers are following strict safety protocols set in place by the government. 

If your family needs to make the transition into aged care during the pandemic, reach out to our industry-leading independent Aged Care specialist & consultant Pauline Healy.      

Pauline’s wealth of experience and extensive knowledge of the industry means she can offer information that is informed, current and accurate.  

 Contact Well Paced Care today:  

Ph – 0419 327 294     

Email – pauline@wellplacedcare.com.au     

Website – www.wellplacedcare.com.au   

The above information has been taken from the following Department of Health resources: