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Protecting Older Australians - COVID-19 Update 16 April 2021

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Updated Queensland directions for aged care providers

From 6am on Thursday 15 April 2021, the Queensland Government eased the restrictions in place to protect the community from COVID-19.

These changes mean there are no restricted Local Government Areas, and general visitors are permitted to enter a residential aged care facility if they comply with visitor requirements.

Read the latest advice for QLD residential aged care facilities. More details on the easing of restrictions in QLD can be accessed on the QLD Government website.

 

New South Wales: Updated screening advice for residential and home care services

The screening advice for residential aged care and home care services in New South Wales was updated on 13 April 2021.

The restrictions for staff and visitors who have been to Queensland close or casual contact venues in the last 14 days, has been removed.

Residential aged care, disability and home care services are also now able to receive visitors from the Local Government Areas of:

  • Ballina
  • Byron Bay
  • Lismore
  • Tweed.

However there are locations of concern in New Zealand.

Providers are encouraged to read the NSW directions in full:

 

Updated advice from ACT Chief Health Officer to ACT residential aged care services

As of 15 April 2021, the following are no longer considered geographical areas of risk in Australia:

  • Greater Brisbane LGAs
  • Gladstone Region
  • Ballina LGA
  • Lismore LGA
  • Tweed LGA
  • Byron Shire Council.

Further information is available on the ACT Government website and in the ACT Health factsheet COVID-19 Advice for high risk settings.

 

Update on COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care workers

All residential aged care facilities are requested to distribute this factsheet to your workforce to provide advice on the aged care vaccine rollout.

On 8 April 2021, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued new AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety advice to the Australian Government.

For aged care workers aged under 50, given the ATAGI advice, the Government is developing options with the sector.

This means planned on-site vaccination clinics for aged care workers at aged care facilities as well as at dedicated off-site (‘pop-up’) vaccination clinics are being reviewed. Staff may continue to access Pfizer doses under the current excess dose policy following resident vaccination clinics where applicable.

For aged care workers aged 50 years and over, GP clinics and GP respiratory clinics continue to offer and provide an AstraZeneca vaccination for those eligible in line with the new ATAGI recommendations.

The Government is currently reviewing the overall COVID-19 vaccine strategy, in light of ATAGI’s advice, to ensure vaccines are delivered as quickly and safely to Australians as soon as possible, with a particular focus on aged care and disability workers.

 

Update on COVID-19 for aged care residents and families

All residential aged care facilities are requested to distribute this factsheet to your residents, their families and carers to provide further information and reassurance about the rollout.

Safety is the number one priority in Australia’s national COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The vaccination of aged care residents and those who care for them is the most effective protection against COVID-19.

The Australian Government is committed to offering vaccinations to all aged care residents, workers and carers safely and as quickly as possible.

There is no change to the vaccine rollout for aged care residents following the new advice by ATAGI.

All aged care residents continue to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine through on-site vaccination clinics.

 

AstraZeneca updates available online

Following ATAGI’s AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety advice, new and updated resources are now available on the department’s website.

These documents include:

Visit the department's website regularly for the most up to date information.

 

Influenza vaccinations in residential aged care facilities

The timing of COVID-19 vaccination clinics and influenza clinics needs careful consideration to maintain the recommended minimum 14 day interval.

Flu vaccinations for residents and staff should occur:

  • 14 or more days before their first Pfizer dose
  • 14 or more days after their second (and final) Pfizer dose
  • 14 or more days before or after their first AstraZeneca dose, or
  • 14 or more days before or after their second (and final) AstraZeneca dose.

Where services have already scheduled an in-reach influenza vaccination program for residents and staff, this can be considered in the scheduling of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. This is to ensure the preferred minimum interval between the two.

If your facility has already scheduled its flu vaccinations, but has not yet been scheduled for an on-site COVID-19 vaccine clinic, please immediately contact your Primary Health Network (PHN). Your PHN will liaise with the vaccine workforce suppliers on your behalf.

Guidance about influenza vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccination program is available on the department's website.

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.

 

Aged Care COVID-19 grief and trauma support resources

The Department of Health is continuing to create resources to help share information about the grief and trauma supports for those living, working and caring in the aged care sector, who have been impacted by COVID-19.

The grief and trauma support and advice services are available Australia-wide. Many people may be suffering grief and loss from the passing of a loved one because of COVID-19, or feeling the loss of their routines, visitors and important events. People may also be experiencing trauma as a response to isolation, physical distancing, COVID-19 hotspot lockdowns, and visitor restrictions in aged care.

A poster and tri-fold brochure highlighting the available supports are available for download and print now. Please print and share them with your residents, communities, networks and staff or with anyone who you think may need the information.

In the coming weeks, we will send printed copies of the poster and brochure to all residential and home care providers. We will also send a letter and brochure to home care recipients. The brochure is currently being translated into 63 languages, and an Indigenous designed version will also be made available. We will let you know where you can order translated versions and more copies of these resources in print.

More information about the package can be found on the department's website. For any questions please email: .

 

Translated industry code for visiting RACFs

The ‘Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19’ (Code) is now available in 20 different languages on the COTA Australia website.

The Code creates a nationally consistent approach that ensures residents can receive visitors while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19. It also cements a human rights approach to care that both protects and respects aged care residents and their visitors, as well as acknowledges the work that providers and staff are doing to keep people safe during the pandemic.

The Code was initially released in May 2020, by 13 aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations following public consultation with both consumers and aged care providers. It was further reviewed and re-released in late May 2020 and July 2020, to include stakeholder feedback.

Residential aged care providers are encouraged to share the availability of these translations with consumers, families, advocates and staff. Peak bodies are also encouraged to share with their networks.



Source:
Unknown Author, 2021, Department of Health (https://www.health.gov.au/)

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