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COVID-19 Management in Residential Care Facilities in Australia

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COVID -19 is a notifiable condition under the Australian National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). This means that in all Australian states and territories, either the medical officer requesting the test and/or the laboratory performing the test, are responsible for notifying the relevant jurisdictional public health authority of the case of COVID-19, as per local legislative requirements.

The primary responsibility of managing COVID-19 outbreaks lies with the RCF, within their responsibilities for resident care and infection control. All RCF should have in-house (or access to) infection control expertise, and outbreak management plans in place.

Roles and Responsibilities

Residential Care Facility

The primary responsibility of managing COVID-19 outbreaks lies with the RCF, within their responsibilities for resident care and infection control. All RCF should have in-house (or access to) infection control expertise, and outbreak management plans in place.

RCFs are required to:

  1. detect and notify outbreaks to state health departments.
  2. self-manage outbreaks in accordance with this guideline, the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019), and the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (2020).
  3. Confirm and declare an outbreak.
  4. Provide advice on infection control measures and use of PPE.
    Confirm and declare when an outbreak is over.

 

The State/Territory Department of Health and Human Services

The relevant state/territory Department of Health will act in an advisory role to assist RCF to detect, characterise and manage COVID-19 outbreaks. This includes:

  • Assisting facilities in confirming outbreaks by applying the case definition correctly and providing advice on obtaining testing samples
  • Providing guidance on outbreak management
  • Monitoring for severity of illness (record deaths and hospitalisations)
  • Informing relevant stakeholders of outbreaks
  • Monitoring the number of COVID-19 outbreaks occurring as the epidemic progresses
  • Contributing to national surveillance.

 

Australian Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) is the national regulator of aged care services. It takes a proportionate risk-based approach in responding to the COVID-19 situation. The role of the Commission is to:

  • independently accredit, assess and monitor aged care services against the Aged Care Quality Standards, including the requirement to minimise infection-related risks through implementing standard and transmission based precautions to prevent and control infection;
  • resolve complaints about the delivery aged care services; and
  • provide education to providers, including with respect to best-practice infection prevention and control.

 

Read the full guidelines here: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidelines for Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia

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