Alert from the Director of Public Health for residential aged care providers - 28 February 2021

Coronavirus

This is an alert from the Director of Public Health for residential aged care providers - 28 February 2021

Printable PDF version

COVID-19 Alert

This alert updates the alert provided on 12 February 2021.

  • The Direction under section 16 of the Public Health Act 1977 (Residential Aged Care Facilities No. 11) has been signed by the Director of Public Health and will replace Residential Aged Care Facilities Direction No. 10 on Monday 1 March. The new Direction is available on the Aged care facility webpage
  • The main changes were announced by the Premier on Friday 26 February 2021.
  • The main changes are:
    1. Removal of the requirement for a person to have the latest influenza vaccination to visit or work in a residential aged care facility.
    2. Addition of the requirement for operators of residential aged care facilities to keep a record (name, phone number, date and time of entry) of every person who enters and remains on the premises for 15 minutes or more.
    3. Removal of restrictions on the number and duration of support and care visits.
    4. Reinforcement of the need for 1.5 metres to be maintained, when practicable, between people visiting in communal areas of your facility.
  • More information about these changes is over the page.
  • In line with the changes, the Screening Tool has been updated and simplified. Screening all staff and visitors is still essential. Do not allow anyone with any symptoms of COVID-19 to enter your facility.

What to do

From Monday:

  • Use the screening tool (Screening Tool Version 5) and dispose of earlier versions.  Visit the Aged care facility visits webpage for the latest version of the screening tool.
  • Keep a record of the name, phone number, date and time of entry of every person who enters and remains on the premises for 15 minutes or more. The Check-in Tas app is the recommended option for this. You will need to register your business if you haven’t already. You may need to keep paper copies on Monday until your business is registered.
  • Remove any notices and posters about public health limits on the number and duration of visits, the location of visits and the need for influenza vaccination.
  • Ensure there is signage about physical distancing in communal areas of your facility.

What’s changing on Monday?

1.

The public health requirement for a person to have the latest influenza vaccination to visit or work in a residential aged care facility will be lifted.

Getting the yearly influenza vaccination is important but will not be essential for staff and visitors to residential aged care services from Monday because it is not currently available. When this year’s influenza vaccine does become available, it will be important to time vaccination carefully for the following reasons:

  • to ensure appropriate spacing between COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations (current advice is there needs to be at least 14 days between receiving COVID-19 vaccines and influenza vaccines); and
  • to ensure effectiveness of the influenza vaccine doesn’t wane before the likely peak f the influenza season in August to September.
2.

Operators of residential aged care facilities will need to keep a record (name, phone number, data and time of entry) of every person who enters and remains on the premises for 15 minutes or more.

This requirement is to enable Public Health to rapidly identify possible contacts of a person diagnosed with COVID-19, in the event of a case or outbreak associated with that facility.

It is similar to the requirement for businesses like cafes and restaurants to record information, except that every person who enters and remains on the premises of a residential aged care facility must provide their details, not just one person per group.

The easiest way to record this information, for everyone, is through the Check-in Tas app

3.

Removal of some public health visitor restrictions.

  • From Monday there will be no public health limits on the number of support and care visits residents can have, or the duration of those visits. Each service may have its own visitation policies that may include limits on the numbers of visitors and length of time for visits.
  • Visitors (and staff) must not attend residential aged care facilities if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are in quarantine (unless they have received an exemption from the Director of Public Health). They must still complete the screening process on entry to the facility.
  • Where visits are held in communal areas, those present must keep 1.5 metres distance from each other when practicable.

Thank you for your ongoing support,

Dr Laura Edwards, Specialist Medical Advisor, Public Health Emergency Operations Centre