Immunisation - RACFs

 

RACF testing guidelines 
Winter preparedness in RACF

 

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.

Updated Portal FAQs

A reminder that residential aged care facilities (RACFs) can request additional PPE to support a current outbreak through the COVID-19 Portal. Providers are responsible for maintaining their standard PPE supply through their existing commercial channels. A standard pack co-contributes to the supply along with the facilities own PPE supplies.

To assist providers in submitting requests through the COVID-19 Portal, the Department has issued updated information in the updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) document.

The COVID-19 Support Portal is accessed through the My Aged Care Provider Portal. If you are experiencing any issues with ordering through the portal, please call the My Aged Care Service Provider Helpline on 1800 836 799.

 

Winter preparedness - Webinar Series

 

NSW Health - Managing outbreak of COVID-19 or Influenza in RACF

The NSW Health Department has published a ARI Guidance (Guidance for Residential Aged Care Facilities on the public health management of Acute Respiratory Infections) detailing 9 key steps in:

  • managing incidents from Acute Respiratory Infection presentation in a resident to
  • managing an outbreak of COVID-19 or influenza, and 
  • provides guidance in assessing the level of risk for staff, residents and visitors following exposure to COVID-19.

Further information for RACFs can be found on the NSW Health website.

Registration Form - COVID-19 Winter Vaccine clinics

Residential Aged Care Facilities that are unable to secure a primary care provider to administer COVID-19 Winter Vaccine doses, either with a GP or pharmacist or through their Primary Health Network, will be able to request an in-reach Commonwealth COVID-19 Winter Dose Vaccination clinic.

To be eligible for a Commonwealth COVID-19 Winter Dose clinic:

  • a facility will need to have 10% or more of their resident population requiring a COVID-19 vaccination and this equates to at least 10 residents in total
  • the minimum 10% of residents requiring a vaccination can include those requiring a winter dose as well as a first, second or booster dose a COVID-19 vaccine. Doses can also be administered to staff if required.

Form and resources

Winter booster dose

 ATAGI has made recommendations on a “winter booster dose” of COVID-19 vaccine for residents of aged care or disability care facilities

The winter booster dose can be given from 4 months after a person’s first booster dose, or from 4 months after a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (if infection occurred after the person’s first booster dose). The winter booster can be provided at the same time as the annual flu vaccine.

Co-administration of COVID-19 Winter dose and annual flu vaccination

 

ATAGI advises that COVID-19 Winter doses can be administered at the same time as the annual flu vaccination. Co-administration of COVID-19 Winter doses and influenza vaccines for residents is both clinically safe and administratively efficient.

In planning your Winter dose programs, aged care providers are encouraged to:

  • identify and optimise opportunities for co-administration of COVID-19 Winter doses and flu vaccines where possible.
  • not delay the administration of flu vaccines to residents if co-administration is not possible or is likely to delay flu vaccination.

 

 

Supply of Air Scrubbers

In the event of an outbreak or exposure, providers should arrange their own hire or purchase of air scrubbers as follows:

  • Private RACFs who are an outbreak site can hire or purchase air scrubbers through private providers.
  • Once hired or purchased, facilities can seek reimbursement from the Commonwealth Government Department of Health through the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (GO4863).
  • Under this grant opportunity, services with a confirmed COVID-19 case that incurred costs for air scrubber / air purifiers during an eligible impact period can claim reimbursement as follows:
    • Reimbursement for the full cost of hire of air purifiers / scrubbers during the impact period.
    • Reimbursement of 50% of the cost of purchase of air purifiers / scrubbers (for each item), up to a maximum of $1000 per item.
    • The full price of the device will not be reimbursed in acknowledgement that the device will become an asset owned by the provider.
  • RACFs are encouraged to research the supply of air scrubbers to ensure that they are able to arrange supply in the event of an outbreak or exposure.
Residential aged care worker COVID-19 vaccination rates map

The residential aged care worker COVID-19 vaccination rates map shows data by facility across Australia and is updated every Wednesday.

 

NSW Health updated advice for RACFs 

The advice from NSW Health for residential aged care facilities has been updated on 25 March 2022.

Summary of the key updates as follows:

  • Reminder to be alert given increasing cases in community
  • Updated information for visitors recommending that each visitor shows evidence of a negative RAT result taken within 24 hours of entry
  • Simplified testing advice for residents leaving the facility to attend a family gathering or event
  • Updated routine testing advice for staff
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.

Winter Preparedness PPE Packs

The DOH is pre-positioning PPE standard packs in all RACFs.

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  X 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+  X 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.

COVID-19 screening and surveillance testing

The Australian Government is continuing to support COVID-19 surveillance testing at RACFs through the distribution of RATs. RATs should be used to conduct screening of residents, visitors and staff.

If you are not receiving regular RAT deliveries or have insufficient supply, please email NSWCOVIDcasemanagement@health.gov.au 

RACF Influenza 2022

NSW Health: Seasonal Influenza Vaccination 2022 - Aged Care Facilities 

COVID-19 Support Portal

Guidance document: 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.

PPE request

From 30 March 2022, approved providers will be able to request additional PPE to support an active COVID-19 outbreak, via the COVID-19 Support Portal, accessed through the My Aged Care Provider Portal.

Deadline extended to request Commonwealth return booster clinics

To ensure every resident and worker is offered a booster dose, the Commonwealth is providing additional booster clinics for residents and workers in residential aged care facilities.The deadline for facilities to request a return Commonwealth booster clinic has been extended to 18 March 2022 (previously 28 Feb). Click here for more information on:

  • How to request a return booster clinic for your facility
  • Self-vaccination of residents and workers
  • Further vaccination options for workers
  • Is your My Aged Care workforce vaccination reporting up to date?
Booster mandatory for RACF workers

Mandatory booster dose for RACF workers required by 12 April 2022 or 6 weeks from the due date of your booster dose.

Practice Incentives Program COVID-19 in-reach vaccination

The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) COVID-19 in-reach vaccination payment is a time-limited payment to support general practices that undertake in-reach COVID-19 vaccination services for residential aged care and disability support workers in their workplace.

This payment is only available for Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment services (for primary vaccine course and subsequent booster vaccine doses) that are administered via an in-reach COVID-19 vaccination clinic between 29 April 2021 to 30 June 2022. See payment guidelines.

Managing RACF workforce affected by Omicron

This document provides Interim Guidance to support safe assessment and decision making when deciding whether to place work restrictions on aged care workers.

New HealthDirect Line for RACFs managing COVID-19 

From Friday 11 February 2022, a new helpline is available to all workers in residential aged care facilities 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 on issues about:

  • what to do if one of your resident tests positive to COVID-19
  • ways to limit the spread to other residents, including quarantining and isolating
  • whether a resident is a candidate for oral antiviral treatment, noting that the nurse cannot prescribe treatments
  • information about COVID-19 vaccinations

Please note that this service does not replace the role of the General Practitioner, who will continue to make clinical decisions together with the resident, their family and representatives.

We would appreciate your feedback on the service and if there are other
COVID-19 questions you would like answered by the helpline. Please contact digital.cv19@health.gov.au to provide your feedback.

Reporting a COVID-19 outbreak or exposure in RACFs

From 28 February 2022, the department is streamlining how approved providers of residential aged care services report cases of COVID-19 to the Commonwealth.

New COVID-19 Support Portal

Providers will be able to report de-identified data on cases of COVID-19 outbreaks or exposure at a residential aged care facility via a new, online COVID-19 Support Portal, which will be accessed via the My Aged Care provider portal.

This portal will replace the current process of notification of a COVID-19 outbreak or exposure by emailing agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au.

Up until Sunday 27 February 2022, providers will be required to continue to report COVID-19 cases to the Commonwealth by email, as well as to the relevant state or territory health department.  The Department will continue to monitor this mailbox for a transition period, and providers will be redirected to provide their information through the COVID-19 Support Portal.

The information collected via the new COVID-19 Support Portal is the same as the existing information required to be reported by providers to the Department of Health. We are simply making it more streamlined and effective.

Streamlining reporting to prioritise support where it’s needed

Immediate notification of COVID-19 cases is critical in the timely and effective provision of support by the Commonwealth to ensure optimum protection for residents and workers.

The COVID-19 Support Portal will offer residential aged care providers a more streamlined and efficient reporting mechanism and will further expedite the provision of support to providers when an outbreak occurs.

The portal will enable Commonwealth case management teams real time access to review the Commonwealth supports required. Providers will also be able to submit de-identified data and update this information in the one place as the situation evolves.

Guidance available
Further information regarding the COVID-19 Support Portal, including an online reporting guide, will be available shortly.

Save the date - COVID-19 Support Portal webinar
The department is hosting a COVID-19 Support Portal webinar to guide users through the new reporting process, including how to use the portal and the benefits of moving to a real time, streamlined system.

RAT kits – update on supply to RACFs

The Australian Government is now moving to a regular weekly forward deployment of RAT kits through the National Medical Stockpile. The first forward deployment commenced on 1 January 2022, and the second deployment commenced on
8 February 2022. The next deployment is due to commence on 14 February.

Around 2.5 million RAT kits will be delivered to every residential aged care facility (RACF) around Australia each week with outbreak sites being prioritised for earliest delivery.

RACFs do not need to place an order. The allocation for each facility is based on the number of residents and staff that services report in the My Aged Care portal for vaccine reporting. 

Allocations for outbreak and exposure sites assume daily testing for staff and twice weekly testing for residents as well as testing for regular visitors engaged by the service and partners in care.

Allocations for other sites are based on twice weekly surveillance testing for staff and regular visitors and partners in care.

From 14 February 2022, RACFs will not be able to order RAT kits using the online form for PPE.  Outstanding orders will not be processed as we anticipate that requirements will be met by the weekly forward deployments.

If you are an outbreak or exposure site with an urgent requirement for RATs, please contact your Commonwealth Case Management team.

Request for Tender

An addendum has been issued 10 Feb 2022 for the Request for Tender inviting residential aged care facilities to self-vaccinate their staff and residents and family members (RFT Health/22-301174),which opened 9 Feb 2022.
 
The addendum reflects the change that each facility can apply to administer COVID-19 vaccines at other RACFs as well as their own sites. This means a facility can apply to administer COVID-19 vaccines at any number of sites.

The RFT provides an important opportunity for residential aged care facilities to have maximum flexibility to administer COVID-19 vaccines when it suits their facility, residents and staff without needing to schedule an external vaccination provider.
 
The department encourages all RACFs to consider applying under this RFT. The application process is not onerous and you can seek further information by emailing COVID19VaccineProcurement@health.gov.au.
 
Proposals can be submitted at any time up until 11 March 2022, 2.00pm (local Canberra time). Initial contracts will be up until 30 June 2022, with a possible option to extend until 31 December 2022, if required. See the AusTender website.

Residential aged care booster rollout

As at 9 February 2022, providers reported that 19 per cent of eligible residents who have received a second dose are yet to receive a booster dose. While the majority of residents were eligible to receive their booster dose, not all residents were able to a booster dose on the day of the in-reach clinic, consent was not completed in some cases and and some residents were not eligible at the time.

The options available for booster doses, and first or second doses as required, include primary care providers, including visiting GPs and pharmacists and through self-vaccination clinics. The department has opened the Request for Tender RFT Health/22-301174  inviting aged care providers to apply to vaccinate residents and workers.

Otherwise, the Commonwealth will offer return booster clinics as a mechanism to support facilities to deliver boosters as soon as practically possible. These are being offered regardless of whether your initial booster clinic was delivered by a Commonwealth vaccine provider, primary care provider or residential aged care provider.

How to request a return booster clinic for your facility

In order to host a return booster clinic, facilities will need to complete a short registration form, and the department will work with vaccine providers to schedule the clinic. Registrations are open until 28 February 2022. You can request your local Primary Health Network register your facility for a return clinic if required.

Facilities are encouraged to register early to ensure the delivery of vaccines as soon as possible. Queries about Commonwealth return booster clinics can be emailed to racfvaccineclinics@health.gov.au

Bulk distribution of RATs to exposure/outbreak RACFs

A bulk dispatch of RATs is underway for all residential aged care facilities with an active COVID-19 outbreak or exposure. Deliveries are expected to occur over the period from 19 January to 27 January 2022. The majority of kits being distributed are CTK Biotech On-Site Self-Tests Other RAT brands may also be distributed.

RAT allocations are based on your My Aged Care Portal reported staff and resident figures and assume daily testing for staff and twice weekly testing for residents. Tests can also be used for partners in care and regular visitors where needed.

If you have reported an outbreak or exposure to the Department of Health on or after 16 January please complete the outbreak or exposure online form to request RATs and personal protective equipment (PPE)

PPE calculator

RACFs are encouraged to use the calculator, as a useful tool in the management of PPE in response to COVID-19.

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Burn Rate Calculator is a spreadsheet-based model, that can help facilities plan and optimize the use of PPE in response to COVID-19.

The Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers in the context of COVID-19 and appendix 9 and 10 of the CDNA guidelines provide helpful diagrams of what PPE is required in different settings.

Some basic modelling has also been done by the Department, based on average interactions in RACFs for a 14 day period:

  • P2 N95 - residents x 10 interactions a day x 14 days
  • Surgical masks – residents x 5 interactions a day x 14 days
  • Gloves – Residents x 15 interactions a day x 14 days x 2 (pairs). These are swapped with every interaction, size wise the general rule is 60% medium, 15% small, 15% large, 10% extra large
  • Gowns – residents x 15 interactions a day x 14 days
  • Face shields – residents x 2 (shifts could be 3 also) a day x 14 days – we are assuming 3 shifts as this is most typical pattern for RACFs
  • Goggles - residents x 2 (shifts could be 3 also) x 14 days - again assuming 3 shifts as is the most typical pattern for RACFs
PPE ordering

The National Medical Stockpile is prioritising the immediate distribution of PPE to residential aged care facilities that currently have a COVID-19 outbreak or exposure. Providers should contact their usual suppliers in the first instance, rather than make a request through the National Medical Stockpile (NMS), if the need for PPE supplies is not urgent or critical.

Place orders at least 5 working days ahead of that date that you will require the additional PPE or RATs.

To place your order, please complete the online form. Orders placed through the online form can be processed more quickly. Please do not submit orders via email to your Commonwealth Case Manager.

Reimbursement of PPE and RAT costs

The COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension Grant (Grant Opportunity – GO4863) reimburses providers for additional eligible costs including:

  • increased staffing costs in a facility with residents/clients who are infected or isolated due to COVID-19
  • increased costs to replace existing staff who are infected or isolated due to COVID-19
  • the purchase of additional PPE and RATs
  • the purchase of additional products and services to manage cleaning and infection control, equipment and resources, waste removal costs.
RACF required to report on booster vaccinations

It is a mandatory requirement for all residential, in-home and community aged care providers to report each Tuesday via My Aged Care provider portal on workers’ booster doses.

In addition, residential aged care providers must report on residents’ booster and third dose vaccination rates. Third doses are for people who are severely immunocompromised.

All providers should now be reporting each Tuesday on their resident booster vaccination rates.

Failure to report weekly on booster vaccination rates may be referred to the Australian Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission for possible regulatory action.

COVID-19 booster dose in RACF

From 8 November 2021, the Australian Government will roll out a national COVID-19 vaccine booster program for residential aged care.

Facilities can choose to:

  • request a GP to conduct an on-site booster clinic
  • use their own qualified nursing staff, or a third party, to self-manage an onsite booster clinic
  • accept the offer from the Australian Government to deliver an in-reach booster clinic. 

Resources are available on the Department of Health website to help plan and prepare for COVID-19 booster clinics

Residential aged care facilities are responsible for:

  • preparing your facility and residents for vaccination clinics
  • obtaining and recording residents' consent
  • monitoring and reporting adverse side effects
  • providing information to your residents and workers.

Pharmacists administering COVID vaccine boosters in RACF

From 8 November 2021 until 30 June 2022, community pharmacies can claim two types of vaccination incentive payments as follows:

  • A Site Visit payment (flag fall) of $57.25 for pharmacies who visit vulnerable patients and workers to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • A Residential Care Incentive payment to vaccinate workers and residents at residential aged care and residential disability care facilities. Pharmacies that provide a vaccination to 50 eligible workers (across any number of facilities) will receive a $1,000 payment
Proof of vaccination

Residential aged care workers should provide evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination status to their employer before 17 September 2021.

This fact sheet: How residential aged care workers can prove your COVID-19 vaccination status to your employer  is available to explain how workers can obtain their Immunisation History Statement or COVID-19 digital certificate as proof of their vaccination.

If a worker urgently needs help getting proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations prior to 17 September, they can contact the AIR on 1800 653 809 – even if it’s within 10 days of them receiving their vaccination. Services Australia will work with the vaccination provider to confirm the individual’s vaccination details and manually update their immunisation history statement.

Exemptions to mandatory vaccination

FAQs: exemptions to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in aged care

Factsheet for residential aged care providers on reporting COVID-19 vaccinations and exemptions

Aged care and disability COVID-19 vaccination clinics

There are now COVID-19 vaccination clinics distributing Pfizer vaccination to aged care and disability. 

Book both your second and first dose appointments at: https://22214.covidhub.com.au or alternatively scan below QR code. 

For more information contact: HealthCare Australia, 1300 542 444.

QR code to access booking link for aged care and disability COVID-19 vaccination hubs

Rapid antigen testing kits

The Government is making rapid antigen testing (RAT) kits available from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care providers operating in  high-risk local government areas (LGA) in Greater Sydney and Western NSW.

Authority to store COVID vaccine in NSW RACFs

The amended licence to on-supply the COVID-19 vaccine at will allow a general practitioner (GP), in a GP clinic engaged in the Commonwealth COVID-19 vaccination program, to supply their stock of COVID-19 vaccine to the responsible person in a residential care facility for storage and use in vaccination of residents. 

Incentive payments for in-reach clinics

Incentive payments of $1,000 are now available for administering in-reach COVID-19 vaccination clinics to residential aged care and disability support workers.Only practices participating in the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) or which operate as a CVC are eligible to participate

Mandatory reporting COVID-19 vaccination status - Aged care residents & workforce 

From 15 June 2021, it is a formal requirement for residential aged care providers to report weekly on the COVID-19 vaccination status of workforce through the online My Aged Care provider portal. See key information and guidance collection 

From 27 July 2021, it will become a formal requirement for residential aged care providers to report weekly on the COVID-19 vaccination status of residents through the online My Aged Care provider portal

New Residents

New resident entrance protocol flow chart outlines the process for residential aged care providers to check whether new residents have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

What to do if you have a confirmed COVID case

Residential Aged Care Facility
If you have a confirmed case in your facility please visit the DOH website for information and resources to assist in preparing and managing a COVID-19 outbreak, including what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak in a residential aged care facility.

The first 24 hours in the management of a confirmed COVID-19 case in a residential aged care facility (RACF) is critical to minimise the spread of the virus. Following the identification of a COVID-19 positive case in either a resident or a staff member RACFs should follow the steps in the checklist in conjunction with your COVID Outbreak Management Plan to minimise the spread of the virus

Who to notify if you have a confirmed case

You must contact your public health unit immediately to report positive COVID-19 cases in either staff members or care recipients.

  • NSW - 1300 066 055

All aged care providers should also immediately notify positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test results by email to the Australian Department of Health: agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au.

Ordering vaccines

How to order vaccines

How to set up a new Vaccine Account Number (VAN):

Vaccine storage

Minimum requirements 

Influenza vaccine 
 CESPHN communications
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