A graphic containing the IDEAS logo, a seated woman and a COVID tester health professional.

Australians living in aged care are among those most vulnerable to becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19. Stopping this virus from spreading into aged care facilities is our top priority. Testing gives health authorities the chance to find people with COVID-19 who are working in aged care, before they appear unwell. This will help health authorities. They can identify where community transmission is occurring, before there are COVID-19 outbreaks.

Information Sourced From: COVID Testing of asymptomatic residential aged care workers in Brisbane and Sunshine Coast

Residential aged care services in these areas will be contacted to be offered in-reach testing for aged care workers. Services in hotspot locations will be prioritised. Please see the updated fact sheet for the latest information.

Protecting vulnerable people

Australians living in aged care are among those most vulnerable to becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19. Stopping this virus from spreading into aged care facilities is our top priority.

The Australian Government, in consultation with Queensland Health, is supporting asymptomatic testing of staff in residential aged care facilities in Greater Brisbane and Sunshine Coast regions.

Asymptomatic testing of aged care staff gives health authorities the chance to find people with COVID-19, before they appear unwell. This helps health authorities identify where community transmission is happening, before there are COVID-19 outbreaks.

Asymptomatic testing will also help providers know the COVID-19 status of staff on a given day. This may help providers know if someone is positive before further transmission occurs or a significant outbreak.

The Commonwealth Department of Health will be in contact with selected aged care services across Greater Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast to offer free COVID-19 asymptomatic testing for aged care staff.

Participation is voluntary. Residential aged care facilities that agree to asymptomatic testing will be contacted by Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology.

Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will contact each facility to arrange a suitable time to test staff. Remember: COVID-19 tests are only a point in time indication of whether someone has the virus. Everyone working and living in aged care must:

  • Maintain good hygiene measures
  • Be alert to symptoms of COVID-19
  • Be retested if they become even mildly unwell.

 

Who will be conducting the asymptomatic testing?

Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology (a subsidiary of Sonic Healthcare).

When will facilities be tested?

After initial contact from the Department of Health, a clinical coordinator from Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will contact your service directly. They will schedule a suitable date and time for testing. Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will collect specimens from staff members who agree to a test and are at the facility on the day the teams visit. Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will also leave pre-prepared COVID-19 collection kits for staff who are unable to attend on the day of the team’s visit. These tests are for collection by any on-site aged care staff, and Sullivan Nicolaides will arrange for a courier to collect the sample from the aged care facility. When first making contact, Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will request the following information: 

  • A list of staff who agree to a test
  • their Medicare details
  • the details of the requesting general practitioner (if available).

This information can be provided to Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology staff on the day of testing. Please note, providing staff details before the testing day will reduce the length of time Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology staff are on the premises.

What is the cost of asymptomatic testing?

There is no cost to residential aged care facilities or staff for testing. The Australian Government is funding this service.

Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will supply their own personal protective equipment.

Do all residential aged care facilities in the Greater Brisbane and Sunshine Coast areas need to participate?

Testing is voluntary. We strongly encourage facilities to participate, as asymptomatic testing of staff members protects residents. It will help providers to know the COVID-19 status of staff at the facility on a given day. This will help providers know early if someone is positive, before further transmission occurs or a significant outbreak.

Who can be tested?

As staff are more likely to contract COVID-19 in the community, they are the priority for testing. A worker may include, allied staff, cleaning and catering staff and others (e.g. volunteer workers).

Will staff need to isolate after being tested?

Staff who feel well and don’t have symptoms do not need to isolate after a test. If they develop symptoms at any point, no matter how mild, they must stay at home and seek medical advice. It is important to note that tests are a point in time indication and a person’s COVID-19 status could change on any given day.

How will people find out their results?

Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will test specimens and will report positive and negative COVID-19 results to Queensland Health. Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will test the collected specimens and provide the results to the facility, Queensland Health and any medical practitioner of a patient who requests a test for their patient. Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology makes the Sonic Dx portal available to facilities so that they can securely access results electronically in the fastest time available. Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will offer Sonic Dx portal access to participating RACFs and will assist with setting up access to Sonic Dx. Individual staff who are tested and register a mobile number with Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology at collection will also receive results by text message from Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology. If RACFs do not use the Sonic Dx portal, Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology will courier hard copy pathologist authorised negative and positive results to RACFs. If there is a positive result, Queensland Health will notify the person and aged care facility. It will also support aged care facilities to undertake contact tracing.

What if my service has a COVID-19 outbreak?

If an aged care facility has a COVID-19 outbreak, testing of residents and staff will be arranged.

What will happen if someone presents for a test and appears unwell?

If a staff member feels unwell or has symptoms of COVID-19, they must go home and seek further medical advice.


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