At Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (EMPHN) we have a dedicated COVID-19 Response and Aged Care Team supporting Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs). Supports we provide include facilitating connections to providers for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations and providing links to the latest public health guidelines and contacts regarding managing COVID-19 outbreaks.
Below are useful updates, links and resources to assist your RACF with COVID-19 related activities throughout Winter 2022.
Managing your service during winter – release of Aged Care Winter Plan 2022
With the co-circulation of both COVID-19 and influenza, the Department has produced the Winter Plan – A guide for residential aged care providers (the Plan).
The Plan provides overarching guidance and resources for aged care providers to support their readiness, response and recovery from exposures and outbreaks of COVID-19 and/or influenza during winter 2022.
Additional information can also be found on the Managing a COVID-19 outbreak in residential aged care webpage.
COVID-19 oral treatments - administration and eligibility criteria update
The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has written to residential aged care providers and released a statement on the standard of care required in the administration and use of COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments in Residential Aged Care Facilities. Please read the CMO's letter and accompanying statement.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has recommended expanded eligibility criteria for COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments, Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) and Lagevrio (molnupiravir).
From Monday 11 July 2022, eligibility has been broadened to include people who have chronic respiratory issues due to conditions such as COPD, moderate or severe asthma and there is also greater access for adults living with disability who have multiple medical conditions.
COVID-19 Vaccination Program
Stay up to date with the latest information and guidance regarding vaccinations for both staff and residents. This webpage also provides residential aged care facilities with recommendations on how to ensure safety of visitors and staff within your facility.
For Winter Dose 2022 Specific information - The COVID-19 Winter Dose Information Kit for Residential Aged Care Providers outlines guidance and resources to assist in planning and preparing for the COVID-19 Winter dose vaccination program.
Winter dose clinics for residents and eligible workers a priority for all aged care facilities
Residential aged care facilities are responsible for ensuring residents have access to the recommended additional winter booster dose as soon as they are eligible:
Facilities can run a multi-faceted approach to vaccination, combining Commonwealth in-reach and primary care clinics. To arrange winter dose vaccination, residential aged care facilities are advised:
- Facilities encouraged to arrange in-reach via their primary health channels (GP or Pharmacy)
- Facilities can request multiple Commonwealth in-reach clinics through an EOI to vaccinate residents as they become eligible. Please note this EOI close soon, 30 June 2022. We encourage you register for a Commonwealth in-reach clinic. RACFs are no longer required to have a minimum number of residents and vulnerable workers eligible before scheduling an in-reach clinic.
- You can also contact local Primary Health Network to assist in sourcing an alternative OR additional primary care arrangement.
For facilities currently experiencing, or recently experienced, a COVID-19 outbreak:
- Arrange COVID-19 winter dose vaccination for those residents and eligible workers who are not COVID-19 positive as soon as possible.
- COVID-19 positive residents and eligible workers can receive their winter dose 3 months after COVID-19 infection.
- Residents in aged care facilities can be vaccinated at a shorter interval (from 3 months after an initial booster dose), where some flexibility of the minimum interval may facilitate vaccination of a larger proportion of individuals.
- There is no requirement for an interval between flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. Co-administration of COVID-19 winter doses and influenza vaccines for residents is both clinically safe and administratively efficient.
Ensure COVID-19 Winter dose reporting is up to date
It is mandatory for providers to report on residents' winter doses as part of weekly reporting via the aged care provider portal.
The Department is monitoring weekly reporting by all providers. If providers are not updating your data at a minimum each Tuesday, compliance action will be taken by the Department. For more information on reporting winter doses, including a fact sheet and quick reference guide, go to the Department's website on Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination reporting.
If you have any questions or require to arrange an in reach clinic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
General COVID-19 Resources:
COVID-19 Support Portal This document provides answers to frequently asked questions for residential aged care providers: How to access and use the COVID-19 Support Portal. Residential aged care services should report to the Commonwealth on COVID-19 outbreaks or exposures through this portal. This portal is also used for requesting PPE and RAT’s.
Aged care sector news EMPHN RACF News - If you work in a Residential Aged Care Facility in our catchment and wish to receive PHN updates, please email email@example.com to request being placed on the mailing list.
Aged Care Sector news - DOH newsletter: Protecting older Australians
Managing a COVID-19 Outbreak in Residential Aged Care You can keep across the latest definitions of what constitutes an outbreak, what you must do if one occurs in your facility, and what resources you can access to help manage the outbreak effectively through the DOH website. The DoH guidance documentation and resources webpage can support you with creating and updating your internal Outbreak Management Plan.
HealthDirect COVID-19 helpline is available to all workers in RACFs to support you to manage COVID-19 in your facility. The phone number is 1800 131 330 and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A registered nurse will be available to provide information and advice.
Extension of the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863)
The Australian Government continues to support approved aged care providers with the additional costs associated with managing COVID-19 and has extended the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension grant to 31 January 2023.
For more information please see the updated Grant Opportunity Guidelines (Grant Opportunity - GO4863) and responses to frequently asked questions available on GrantConnect.