Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for older Australians and people supporting them who are receiving care either at home or in a residential aged care.
Find up to date information and authoritative information and advice on COVID-19 for the health and aged care sector on the Australian Department of Health’s website and at the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s website.
COTA Australia has worked with the federal government to produce a fact sheet for older Australians. It provides clear and practical information about reducing the risks of COVID-19 and answers many frequently asked questions.
COTA Australia has also put together a frequently asked questions page.
NDIA have produced some easy English information sheets about COVID-19.
For information in your language, Ethnolink have translated resources.
Dementia Australia Help Sheets
- Tips for people living with dementia – outlines the coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms, hygiene tips, the importance of having a good support network, ideas to remain active and engaged while in self-isolation, and where to go for help.
- Tips for carers, families and friends of people living with dementia – outlines the coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms, hygiene tips, helpful tips for primary carers, as well as for family, friends or neighbours, ideas for remaining active and engaged while in self-isolation, and where to go for help.
- Tips for residential care providers – outlines the impacts coronavirus COVID-19 may have on residents, tips on alternative activities and how to support continued engagement with families and carers.
- Tips for home care providers – outlines the impacts coronavirus COVID-19 may have on a person living with dementia, tips to reduce heightened anxiety and where to go for help.
National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500, interpreter service are available.
You can still make a submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission
The deadline for submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will be extended to 31 July 2020. Read the media release on the Royal Commission website.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is calling for submissions from the general public and organisations relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the aged care sector. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all aspects of Australia’s economy and society, including the delivery of aged care services. In order to understand that impact fully, the Commissioners are seeking the views of those people directly affected, in particular recipients of aged care services, families or supporters of recipients, aged care service providers, and those who work in aged care.
If you would like to inform COTA’s response to the Royal Commission and our ongoing advocacy work, please register your interest here
Find more information here.
Visits to friends and family in residential aged care – restrictions have eased.
It is important to take reasonable steps to protect residents, visitors and staff. The restrictions on residential aged care facilities have been eased, with the risk of COVID-19 being balanced against the personal welfare and mental health of residents.
There are special measures in place to stop the spread of the virus through residential aged care facilities. These include:
- From 1 May 2020, you cannot enter a residential aged care facility if you have not received your influenza vaccination.
- Anybody (visitors, staff, contractors) who has been overseas within the past 14 days
- Anybody who has been in contact with COVID-19 within the past 14 days
- Anybody with fever or flu-like symptoms (e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath)
As of 17 June 2020, the restrictions on visitors have been eased.
A support person can provide care and support to the person they are visiting, including physical care and support.
Visitors, aged care staff, health workers, volunteers and anyone else entering a residential aged care facility will still not be allowed to enter the facility if they have not had the 2020 flu vaccine. There may be some exemptions, as outlined in the Australian Government’s Flu Vaccination Requirements for Aged Care Facilities (PDF).
Residents can have up to two visitors at any one time. There is no limit on the number of visits allowed in a day or the length of each visit.
Children under the age of 16 years are now able to visit residential aged care facilities.
Service providers may visit the facility, including but not limited to:
- legal advisors
- mental health providers (e.g. diversional therapists and music therapists)
- allied health providers (e.g. podiatrists).
A resident can leave the aged care facility for a range of reasons, including but not limited to:
- attending small family gatherings of up to 20 people (as long as physical distancing can be maintained)
- receiving or accessing health care
- attending a funeral
- visiting another residential aged care facility.
- Residents who are part of a family group (e.g. couples or siblings) or close friends can leave the facility together.
- Groups of residents cannot go on external excursions (e.g. a group of residents cannot be taken on a day trip to the beach).
For full details read the Aged Care Direction (No. 6).
For information on the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19, can be found here.
If you have concerns about their processes, you can contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 237 981 the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822.
Visiting someone in residential aged care
If you are visiting someone in residential aged care, you will need to change the way you do things.
- visit a resident in the resident’s room, outdoors or a specified area in the aged care facility
- avoid communal spaces
- make sure the resident has no more than two visitors at a time, including doctors
- wash your hands before entering and leaving the facility
- stay 1.5 metres away from residents where possible
- stay away when unwell
Visitors should not be anyone who:
- is unwell
- has returned from overseas in the last 14 days
- has had contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- has travelled to a COVID-19 hot spot in the last 14 days
- has a fever (37.5 degrees or more)
- has a cough, runny nose, sore throat or breathing difficulties
- after 1 May 2020, has not had the 2020 flu vaccination (unless it is unavailable to you).
Whether you are a visitor, worker or volunteer, if you have visited a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days, you must be in self-quarantine, so you must not enter an aged care facility.
Find out more, including frequently asked questions here.
If you, or the person you are visiting, are unwell (particularly with flu or cold-like symptoms), you must not visit. Consider a chat over the phone, or other arrangement. Aged care providers have been asked to set up video links, skype connections and the like.
If you are receiving support in the home or need support
If you are in your own home and require help at home or short-term care or an assessment of your needs, contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or go to myagedcare.gov.au. If you are already accessing support and you require additional support or a change in your support contact your providers to discuss your needs and care plan.
The Australian Government has introduced new flexibility provisions for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP). If your current services are not meeting your needs talk to your service provider or contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
Training and Guidelines for service providers
Online training on COVID-19 for care workers across all health care settings.
The Australian Department of Health has a 30-minute online training module – How to protect yourself and the people you are caring for from infection with COVID-19. This training is for care workers across all health care settings. It covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19 including:
- COVID-19 – what is it?
• Signs and symptoms
• Keeping safe – protecting yourself and others
• Myth busting
Users must register but registration is open to anyone. Register now.
Australian guidelines for aged care providers
The Infection Control Expert Group have developed national guidelines for COVID-19 infection prevention and control in residential care facilities in Australia. Access the document here.
The Department of Health have produced a guide for aged care providers who offer home care services to older people. It provides information and guidance on how to stay safe from coronavirus (COVID-19). Access the document here.
Other guidelines and advice for the health and aged care sector can be found on the Department of Health website here and you can find Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and healthcare managers here. You can find advice and resources from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, including a COVID-19 management flowchart, here.
‘It’s ok to have home care’ infographic and factsheet
The Australian Government has released an information sheet and infographic for older people who may have an aged care worker visiting them at home. The It’s ok to have Home Care Infographic’
and the It’s ok to have Home Care Factsheet provide people with information on safety measures that have been put in place, how they can protect themselves against COVID-19 and to look after their health. Factsheets are also available in languages other than English.
Guidance from the World Health Organisation
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released an Infection Prevention and Control guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities in the context of COVID-19 on 21 March 2020 . Access the document here.
Dementia Australia Help Sheets for care providers
Tips for residential care providers outlines the impacts coronavirus COVID-19 may have on residents, tips on alternative activities and how to support continued engagement with families and carers.
Tips for home care providers outlines the impacts coronavirus COVID-19 may have on a person living with dementia, tips to reduce heightened anxiety and where to go for help.
Information pages from provider peak bodies