COVID-19 and aged care
Older people are more at risk of both contracting COVID-19, and having a serious illness as a result. Managers, staff, family, friends and residents need to work together to protect our most vulnerable community members.
Resources for aged care facilities
- Click here to visit the Australian Government's website to access resources such as Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines for outbreaks in residential care facilities.
- Click here to visit the Victorian Government's website to access resources such as the COVID-19 plan for the Victorian Aged Care sector and Care Plan for Suspected / Confirmed COVID-19 in aged care resident.
- Click here to visit NSW Health website to access resources such as Guidance for aged care facilities and a poster for aged care facilities.
- Click here to visit Murray PHN's COVID-19 resources page for links to other resources such as infection control training and how to use surgical masks.
Ordering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Residential aged care providers can request PPE by sending an email to agedcareCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au
Note that the Department will assess requests and may be in contact if additional information is required. Providers will be advised if their request has been successful. If so, state and territory governments will distribute the agreed PPE to the provider.
Priority will be given to aged care providers where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Testing for COVID-19 in aged care settings
The Victorian Chief Health Officer advised on 12 May that the Commonwealth Department of Health has engaged Sonic Healthcare (Melbourne Pathology in Victoria) to provide a rapid in-reach sample collection and testing pathology service for all residential aged care facilities. The service will:
- Receive and prioritise requests for COVID-19 testing of residents and/or staff of a residential aged care facility.
- Arrange for a specialised COVID-19 pathology collector to attend a facility and return the sample to the laboratory for immediate testing.
- Provide results by phone to the referring doctor and registered nurse attached to the facility within 48 hours for regional areas, and if a result is positive, send a specialised COVID-19 collection team to collect samples from all staff and residents.
- There is a dedicated toll-free number -1800 570 573 - operating from 8am to 6pm that all residential aged care facilities can contact to arrange priority testing for residents and staff.
- Due to the high volume of tests being processed, results may take longer than usual, up to 5 days.
Recommended steps to testing
Step one - RACF notifies the GP
Preferably using the ISBAR tool, the RACF should provide the patient's GP with details of the symptoms, including:
- Name of patient
- Date of onset of symptoms
- Description of symptoms
Record the patient's vital signs
- Respiratory rate
- Oxygen saturations
- Blood pressure
- Pulse rate
- Signs of respiratory distress:
– rapid breathing
– audible wheeze
– intercostal recession
– using accessory muscles
Step 2 - GP management
GP undertakes a telehealth consult and assess whether the patient meets the criteria for testing (COVID-19 MBS telehealth fee)
Patient does not meet the testing criteria
- GP provides advice on further management
- patient remains isolated until symptoms resolve or as directed by the GP
Patient meets the testing criteria
- GP generates pathology request form for COVID-19 PCR testing includes the RACF in result
- Responsible for notifying patient/NOK and RACF of result
- GP provides management of patient symptoms as per presentation as per usual, e.g. treats bacterial infection, COPD, asthma etc
- If GP needs to attend to assess the patient in person RACF to provide PPE
Step 3 - testing options
The best testing option would be Option A
- RACF has trained staff and PPE to enable staff member to undertake the Nasopharyngeal swab
- GP provides the pathology request
- Fax or email to the RACF includes RACF in results
- GP notifies the RACF of the result
- RACF does not have trained staff
- RACF to provide PPE and swab
- GP to provide the pathology request form to the facility
For more information and resources click here.