Senior woman wearing a mask

Advice is available on the NSW Government Health website regarding disability support, aged care and home care providers and was updated as at 8 January 2021.

People who receive disability, home care or other personal care support services may be more vulnerable to serious complications if they do become infected with COVID-19, depending on the nature of their disability and other medical history.

People who receive such services are also vulnerable should their usual care be interrupted. It is particularly important that transmission is minimised through enhanced infection prevention and control procedures.


Advice for Residential Disability Care providers and Home Care service providers as at 8 January 2021

The advice by NSW Health Public Health Response Branch for residential disability care providers and home care service providers was UPDATED on 8 January 2021 on the NSW Health Disability Support Providers website


Key points

  • Until further notice, all staff must wear a surgical mask whilst in a residential disability care facility.
  • Exclude staff who:
    • have been in any of the locations:
    • have a fever (37. 5°C or higher) or symptoms of COVID-19 (acute blocked nose congestion has been added to the list of symptoms)
    • are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and are within their self-isolation period.

All residential disability care facilities must maintain vigilance to prevent the introduction of COVID-19. This is because COVID-19 is still circulating in some areas, particularly in some areas of Sydney. If an outbreak occurs in an area, a facility will need to be able to rapidly implement additional protections.


Advice for residential disability care facilities as at 21 December 2020

 

Visiting

Until at least 11.59 pm on Wednesday 23 December 2020 all residential disability care facilities across NSW must exclude visitors. Visitors performing essential caring functions and where there are exceptional circumstances (“exempted visitors”) (see below) may be allowed but should wear a mask, be escorted to and from the resident’s room by a staff member and remain within the room during the visit.

Access for any exempted visitors should be in line with the screening requirements set out in the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 7) 2020 and the guidance outlined in the CDNA National Guidelines for the prevention, control and public health management of COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care facilities in Australia.

Facilities are asked to:

  • Ensure staff wear a surgical mask whilst in the facility
  • record every exempted visitor's name, phone number, date and time of entry, and exit (where possible). If hand-written records are collected, they should be legible. You should be in a position to provide the records to NSW Health for contact tracing purposes as soon as possible but within 4 hours of being requested. Records should be kept for a minimum period of 28 days. Electronic check-in methods (such as QR codes) are better than paper records and should be used where possible.

 

Exceptional circumstances

In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible for exempted visitors to be allowed entry into the facility on compassionate grounds (e.g. imminent death of a loved one.) Similar provisions exist for staff members if their exclusion will result in significant compromise to patient care. Advice should be sought from your local Public Health Unit as to how to appropriately manage these visits.

Any decision to admit exempted visitors must be based on an assessment of the risk of the individual, and the ability of the facility to manage their visit. Added precautions, including being escorted directly to and from the room of the resident, and remaining within the room during the visit, need to be in place. Visitors and staff with symptoms, or who have been identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19 should not be exempted.

Further situations that require restriction of access

Exclude any staff or exempted visitor who:

  • have a fever (37.5°C or higher) or any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection, even if mild. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, headache, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or loss of smell. Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting loss of appetite and acute blocked nose (congestion),
  • during the last 14 days have been:
    • close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and are within their self-isolation period
    • in any of the locations listed on self-isolate and get tested immediately, at the times and dates listed.
    • in any of the locations listed to monitor for symptoms, at the times and dates listed, except where noted otherwise

Additional measures for staff and facilities

  • Minimise staff working across different care facilities. Where ceasing staff movement across facilities is not practical, additional measures should be put in place, such as maintaining records of staff and work locations. Where staff working across multiple facilities poses an unacceptable risk, seek advice from the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, NDIA or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Keep your emergency response plan up to date.  Include provisions in your plan to ensure that your facility:
    • is able to quickly require all staff to wear surgical masks should it be recommended in the future because of an increased risk of local transmission. NSW Health will notify you of this requirement should your location be affected
    • has sufficient stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)held on site
    • has a designated infection control lead
    • all staff have regular infection control training.

Community activities and outings - individual and group excursions

Until at least 11.59 pm on Wednesday 23 December 2020 residents from residential disability care facilities in NSW should not leave the facility to attend family gatherings or group excursions unless the visit is essential (such as a medical appointment). This advice will be reviewed on 23 December.

Further advice

If you need additional advice, see

If you would like more information about this guidance, please contact your local NSW Health Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055. For more information about NDIS-related issues, including any funding issues relating to compliance with these measures for NDIS participants, contact:

  • the NDIA on 1800 800 110
  • NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
  • email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Advice to residential aged care facilities as at 21 December 2020

All residential disability care facilities must maintain vigilance to prevent the introduction of COVID-19. This is because COVID-19 is still circulating in some areas, particularly in some areas of Sydney. If an outbreak is to occur in your area, your facility will need to be able to rapidly implement additional protections.

Visiting

Until at least 11.59 pm on Wednesday 23 December 2020 all residential aged care facilities across NSW must exclude visitors. Visitors performing essential caring functions and where there are exceptional circumstances (“exempt visitors”) may be allowed but must wear a mask, be escorted to and from the resident’s room by a staff member and remain within the room during the visit. In exceptional circumstances, seek advice from your local NSW Health public health unit on 1300 066 055.

Access for exempt visitors should be in line with the screening requirements set out in the Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 4) 2020 and the guidance outlined in the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 and the CDNA National Guidelines for the prevention, control and public health management of COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care facilities in Australia. View the Aged Care Public Health Order Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Facilities are asked to:

  • ensure all exempt visitors wear a surgical mask whilst in the facility
  • record every exempt visitor's name, phone number and date and time of entry (and time of exit where possible). If hand-written records are collected, they should be legible and provided to NSW Health for contact tracing purposes if requested as soon as possible but within 4 hours. Records should be kept for a minimum period of 28 days. Electronic check-in methods (such as QR codes) are better than paper records and should be used where possible.

Exceptional circumstances

In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible for exempt visitors to be allowed entry into the facility on compassionate grounds (e.g. imminent death of a loved one), or for essential care purposes. Similar provisions exist for staff members if their exclusion will result in significant compromise to patient care. Please contact your local Public Health Unit if you require advice as to how to appropriately manage these visits.

A decision to admit otherwise exempt visitors must be based on an assessment of the risk of the individual, and the ability of the facility to manage their visit. Added precautions, including being escorted directly to and from the room of the resident, and remaining within the room during the visit, would need to be in place. Visitors and staff with symptoms, or who have been identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19, should not be exempted.

Situations that require restriction of access

Exclude any staff or exempt visitors who:

  • have a fever (37.5°C or higher) or any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection, even if mild. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, headache, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or loss of smell. Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite and acute blocked nose congestion.
  • during the last 14 days have been:
    • in close contact of a person confirmed with COVID-19 and are within their self-isolation period
    • in any of the locations listed on self-isolate and get tested immediately, at the times and dates listed
    • in any of the locations listed on monitor for symptoms, at the times and dates listed, except where noted otherwise

Additional advice for staff and facilities

  • Minimise staff working across different care facilities. Where ceasing staff movement across facilities is not practical, additional measures should be put in place, such as maintaining records of staff and work locations.
  • All staff must wear a surgical mask whilst in the facility.
  • Keep your outbreak preparedness plan up to date.  Include provisions in your plan to ensure that your facility:
    • is able to quickly require all staff to wear surgical masks should it be recommended in the future because of an increased risk of local transmission. NSW Health will notify you of this requirement should your location be affected
    • has sufficient stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) held on site
    • has a designated infection control lead
    • all staff have regular infection control training.

Community activities and outings - Individual and group excursions

Until at least 11.59 pm on Wednesday 23 December 2020, residents from residential aged care facilities in NSW should not leave the facility to attend family gatherings and group excursions unless the visit is essential (such as a medical appointment). Advice will be reviewed before 11.59 pm 23 December 2020.

If you need additional public health advice contact your local NSW Health Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.


Advice to home care service providers as at 21 December 2020

COVID-19 safety measures for home care service providers

  • Minimise staff working across multiple settings (such as in-home and residential care). Where ceasing staff movement across settings is not practical, additional measures should be put in place, such as maintaining records of staff and work locations and increasing use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • All staff across NSW. are required to  wear surgical masks during home visits
  • Ensure staff actively ask clients about symptoms on arrival. If staff become aware of a client with symptoms, that client should be isolated from others and arrangements made for COVID-19 testing.

Guidance on staff restrictions

  • Exclude all staff from home visits who:
    • have a fever (37.5°C or higher) or any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection, even if mild. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, headache, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or loss of smell. Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include acute blocked nose (congestion), muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting and loss of appetite
    • during the last 14 days have been:
      • a close contact of a person confirmed with COVID-19 and are within their self-isolation period.
      • in any of the locations on the self-isolate and get tested immediately list, at the times and dates listed.
      • in any of the locations on the monitor for symptoms list, at the times and dates listed except where noted otherwise

Additional advice for all home care service providers

  • The Commonwealth Department of Health has issued a Guide for Home Care Providers to assist staff in reducing the risk of COVID-19.
  • More detailed advice for services who provide care in the home is at Guidance for risk screening and assessment for home visiting health services.
  • Please seek the advice of your local NSW Health Public Health Unit if you are in doubt about how to appropriately mitigate risk when providing home care services on 1300 066 055.
  • For more information about NDIS-related issues, including any funding issues relating to compliance with these measures for NDIS participants, contact:
    • the NDIA or call 1800 800 110
    • NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
    • email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Associate Professor Michelle Villeneuve resource on Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness  

Information sourced from NSW Government Health 

Further information is available at Live in NSW? The latest about COVID-19


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