COVID-19 outbreak policy

To reduce the impact of COVID-19 in RACFs, the Chief Public Health Officer has released recommendations in the Guidance for managing COVID-19 exposures and
outbreaks in residential aged care facilities

The Joint Protocol: Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in South Australia Residential Aged
Care Facilities (updated on 25 August 2022) formalises the coordination of government support for aged care providers during COVID-19 outbreaks.

Return to work for close contacts

RACFs should establish workplace policies for staff returning to work when they are a COVID-19 close contact. Refer to the Guidance for managing COVID-19 outbreaks in residential aged care facilities for more information.

Oral antiviral treatment plans

Early treatment of COVID-19 or influenza with antiviral medication can reduce disease severity. GPs and RACF staff are encouraged to discuss with all residents (or substitute decision makers) their wishes and consent for oral antiviral treatment in advance.

The Oral Antiviral Treatment Plan (COVID and Influenza) for Residents of South Australian Aged Care Facilities template (DOC 31KB) can guide these discussions and document treatment eligibility and consent ahead of time. This allows timely access to treatment in the event of infection or outbreak.

COVID-19 vaccination for staff

Vaccination is important for managing COVID-19 related risks in RACFs.

Staff vaccination is now the responsibility of RACF providers and should be included in workplace policies. Staff (employees, contractors, agency), students and volunteers are strongly encouraged to be up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations, as per ATAGI guidelines.

COVID-19 vaccine for residents

Up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination is strongly encouraged for RACF residents.

COVID-19 vaccine access

Residents who wish to be vaccinated should be supported by the RACF to access a COVID-19 vaccine, such as arranging onsite vaccination by a GP or travel to one of the vaccination sites.

Third and fourth (booster) dose

Residents who received a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least three months ago are eligible to receive a third (booster) dose.

A fourth (booster) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is available for people to ensure maximum protection and is recommended for people aged 50 years or older (three months after the third dose).

Eligible residents can access a vaccination through RACF COVID-19 booster dose clinics, SA Health vaccination clinics, GPs, and community pharmacies.

COVID-19 vaccine records

RACF operators are recommended to maintain a record of COVID-19 vaccination status of residents and staff.

Influenza vaccinations

RACF operators are recommended to maintain a record of influenza vaccination status of residents. All staff and those who are engaged to work or volunteer at a RACF should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza.

COVID-19 infection control training requirements

Providers are responsible for staff training, including in infection control practices and procedures and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) use.

Refer to the Australian Government, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Standard 3. Personal care and clinical care webpage and the COVID-19 provider resources webpage.

COVID-19 Infection Control Plans

All RACFs should complete a COVID-19 Infection Control Plan for all communal areas at the facility as part of their workplace policies.

To complete a plan, download the Residential Aged Care Facilities COVID Infection Control Plan Template (DOCX 597KB) and read the Residential Aged Care Facility COVID-19 Infection Control Plan Guidance (PDF 441KB).

Personal protection equipment (PPE)

Operators of RACF should consider appropriate PPE requirements for employees and contractors undertaking duties at their facilities. For information about PPE, see the Infection Control and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) advice webpage.

Training

Training staff in the correct use of PPE minimises the potential of COVID-19 transmission within RACFs amongst workers and residents. For more information visit the staff protection from infections page.

Face masks

Staff and visitors are no longer required to wear a mask in an RACF. However, visitor and staff mask use should be reinstated when one resident tests positive to COVID-19, or when advised by SA Health.

Particulate filter respirators (PFR) are the recommended face mask for COVID-19 exposures and outbreaks. PFRs are also appropriate for health care workers to use when present for aerosol-generating procedures (and behaviours) and the resident is suspected to have an infection transmitted by droplet or airborne route, including COVID-19. For further information see:

Sourcing PPE

RACF providers experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak or exposure can request PPE from the National Medical Stockpile by completing the online form.

To request PPE go to the COVID-19 Support Portal via the My Aged Care (MAC) service provider portal.

If required, RACF can source stock through SA Health (at a cost)  by emailing HealthPSCMSCOCustomerService@sa.gov.au.

Rapid antigen testing (RAT)

RAT kits are an important tool in protecting residents and workers from COVID-19. RACFs are encouraged to use RATs as a workplace surveillance tool to screen people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. By using RATs in this way, RACFs may detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals and prevent exposure in the RACF.

Accessing RATs

The Australian Government has moved to a regular deployment of RAT kits through the National Medical Stockpile. RACFs do not need to place an order.

RACF can also order RATs from their usual providers or from SA> Health (at a cost) by completing the order form and emailing to HealthPSCMSCOcustomerservice@sa.gov.au.

Visitor access

Processes are in place to ensure that residents can receive visitors safely, including:

  • Physical distancing of 1.5m
  • A strong recommendation to do a RAT before visiting
  • If there is a COVID-19 case amongst residents, mask use should be reinstated for all visitors and staff.

Facilities may implement other measures as appropriate.

Visitors during COVID-19 outbreaks

Wherever possible, processes should be put in place so residents can receive essential visitors safely during an outbreak. For further information, refer to the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 and the Guidance for managing COVID-19 exposures and outbreaks in residential aged care facilities (PDF 780KB).

Further information

For additional information or advice about a COVID-19 outbreak in a residential aged care facility, email Health:COVID Public Health

COVID-19 vaccinations information

Fact sheets

Resources