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Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN)—helping northern Queenslanders live happier, healthier, longer lives  |  nqphn.com.au 
30 March 2022

Protecting Older Australians – Department of Health COVID-19 Update

The Australian Government Department of Health has provided the following important COVID-19 vaccination program updates for residential aged care providers and workers:

Winter Preparedness PPE Packs

As part of the Australian Government's investment of a further $1.2 billion to prepare and protect senior Australians against COVID-19 and influenza this winter, the Australian Government is pre-positioning personal protective equipment (PPE) standard packs in all residential aged care services. This includes residential aged care facilities (RACFs), multi-purpose services (MPS), and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) services.

PPE is a vital component of effective outbreak management and having both the right types and amount of stock on-hand, as well as a place to safely store it and access it quickly is crucial.

Residential aged care providers have a responsibility to carefully monitor their PPE supplies and take proactive steps to ensure they have sufficient PPE supplies on hand.

Providers should seek PPE from commercial suppliers in the first instance. After a facility has explored alternative supply options, they may request supply from the National Medical Stockpile (NMS).

Distribution of PPE packs is expected to commence on Monday, 11 April 2022 and be completed by mid-May 2022. Packs will be allocated based on the number of residents as reported through your My Aged Care data, and as detailed in the following table, noting quantities are approximate:
 

Facility size (resident numbers) Pack size Surgical masks N95 masks Gloves Gowns Face shields and googles Total number of pallets
 Up to 30  Extra small  1,800  4,100  15,600  2,900  4,100  5
 31 to 50  Small  2,200  4,900  15,800  3,700  4,100  6
 51 to 70  Medium  2,600  6,200  16,400  4,700  4,400  7
 71 to 110  Large  3,200  7,300  21,500  5,300  5,300  8
 111 - 200+  Extra large  4,000  9,000  24,800  6,700  6,500  10

All facilities will receive these packs automatically. If providers do not wish to receive this pack, please opt out via the Residential aged care Winter Preparedness PPE Pack - Opt Out online form by midnight local time Wednesday, 6 April 2022.

Packs will be delivered in tranches. From 8 April 2022, providers can check their delivery address and communications, as well as track delivery, through their COVID-19 Support Portal via the My Aged Care provider portal.

Australian Government Department of Health

Nominations now open: Re-engaging volunteers into residential aged care facilities program

Volunteers in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) are essential to reducing senior Australians’ social isolation and loneliness. A conversation, walk outside or just being present can really make a difference to improving mental health and wellbeing.

The Government is investing $5 million to support the safe return and re-engagement of volunteers, making access to volunteers easier for providers.

Volunteer training and onboarding will be undertaken by Volunteering Australia state and territory peak bodies. They will match volunteers who can provide a range of non-clinical social supports, including during an outbreak. The types of support volunteers can provide include companionship, leisure activities, access to outdoor spaces or administrative support. More information is on the program webpage.

Interested RACFS are encouraged to nominate for volunteer placements.

RACFs will need an onsite volunteer coordinator and volunteer insurance, provide local orientation, and supply PPE and rapid antigen tests as needed for volunteers. Volunteers will be required to enter a signed agreement with the RACF setting out clear timeframes and roles. Volunteer work cannot replace or replicate that of paid workers.

The program aligns with recent health advice and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission statement encouraging increased visits and access by volunteers and partners-in-care to RACFs.

Australian Government Department of Health

Update on Aged Care and COVID-19 with the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, invites aged care providers to an update on Aged Care and COVID-19.

The session will be held online on Thursday 31 March, 11am–12pm (AEST).

Please register to attend.

Organisers are aiming to limit registration to one representative per organisation, so please have a discussion within your organisation to nominate an appropriate attendee.

The session will include a moderated Q&A session with the Minister and Department of Health officials, and participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance.

Updated Industry Code for Visiting in Aged Care Homes

The Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 (the Code) was developed by aged care industry peaks and consumer groups, to help providers apply restrictions with care and compassion, keeping residents and their loved ones at the centre of decision making. The Code was updated on 22 March 2022.

This latest update incorporates updated definitions of an aged care exposure to COVID-19 and an aged care outbreak of COVID-19, in line with the updated CDNA guidelines.

If you have any concerns or feedback on the Code:

  • aged care providers and other industry stakeholders, please email visitoraccesscode@agedservices.asn.au
  • residents, carers, families and friends wishing to report concerns where the Code is not being effective in facilitating visits or any other feedback, please email: AgedCareVisitorsCode@cota.org.au or call 1300 COTA AU (1300 268 228).

Useful resources

NQPHN is committed to supporting you during the COVID-19 pandemic, so please be assured we will update you with the relevant information from the Australian Government Department of Health and Queensland Health as and when we receive it.
 
To help you receive timely and clear information regarding COVID-19, NQPHN uses a subject line starting with ‘COVID-19:’ in all our email correspondence to you, so please prioritise accordingly.
 
NQPHN also recommends the following COVID-19 websites, so you can track the latest clinical advice and keep informed about COVID-19:

If you have any queries, questions, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact NQPHN at preparednessandresponse@nqphn.com.au
Northern Queensland Primary Health Network acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia's First Nation Peoples and the Traditional Custodians of this land. We respect their continued connection to land and sea, country, kin, and community. We also pay our respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging as the custodians of knowledge and lore.
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