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 30 June 2020. Read the media release on the Royal Commission website.
The Commissioners have decided to suspend all hearings and workshops for the Aged Care Royal Commission for the time being, subject to ongoing review. This decision is a consequence of the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and based on information available from the Australian Government.
The Commissioners said this suspension would also apply to group consultations which have been part of the engagement work conducted by Royal Commission staff.
This decision will immediately affect all hearings and workshops currently scheduled until at least the end of May 2020. The Commissioners are carefully considering the implications this decision will have on their continuing work program. Read the media release on the Royal Commission website.
Visits to friends and family in residential aged care
It is important to take reasonable steps to protect residents, visitors and staff.
A chat over the phone, video call or email – rather than visits in person – is a good precaution to help stop the spread of COVID-19. However, we understand that you may still wish to visit loved ones in person.
There are special measures in place to stop the spread of the virus through residential aged care facilities. These include:
- Limiting visits to a short duration
- Having a limit of two visitors per resident, per day
- Limited the visit to the resident’s room, avoiding communal areas where the risk of virus transmission is higher
The following people cannot enter a residential aged care facility:
- 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)
- School groups
- From 1 May 2020, you cannot enter a residential aged care facility if you have not received your influenza vaccination.
Children under 16 pose an additional risk. It’s possible that children and young people may be carriers of COVID-19 but show no symptoms, making it extremely difficult to tell if it’s safe for them to visit an older relative. For this reason visits by children under 16 are by exception only and require permission.
There should be no large groups or gatherings of visitors or residents. This means that social gatherings, including bingo or trivia or musical entertainment, will mostly be cancelled.
In some cases, providers are asking all visitors to stay away. You should call the facility directly to understand what processes they have put in place, including any exemptions in special circumstances, such as compassionate grounds when a loved one is very unwell, in palliative care or with high dementia care needs.
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.
If you do visit someone in residential aged care
If you are visiting someone in residential aged care, you will need to change the way you do things.
This includes keeping the visit short, with no more than two people, visiting only in your loved one’s room, outdoors, or in a specified area and avoiding communal areas, showing evidence that you have had your 2020 influenza vaccination, and keeping 1.5 metres between yourself and others at all times.
The Department of Health has published a factsheet for families and residents on restricted visits to residential aged care facilities, which details this as well as other information. The factsheet is available here. You can find the Department of Health’s webpage for Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people in aged care facilities, including visitors, here.
The Prime Minister’s announcement on 18 March regarding aged care visitation restrictions is available 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.
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