Residential aged care facilities are now required to appoint a clinical staff member as an infection prevention and control (IPC) lead by 1 December 2020. Here’s what you need to do and the deadlines you have to meet.
Summary of tasks and deadlines
- Appoint an IPC lead by 1 December 2020
- Report the details of nominated IPC leads for each facility by 4 December 2020
- Complete training for the IPC lead by 31 December 2020
- Update your report with training details by 31 December 2020
- The IPC training course must have an identified date for completion before 28 February 2021
Background: what is an Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) lead and why do we need one?
According to the Department of Health, an IPC lead is a designated member of your nursing staff who has completed an identified IPC course. The role of the IPC lead is to observe, assess and report on IPC of your aged care home and assist with developing procedures and providing advice within the home.
By requiring all aged care homes to have an IPC lead, the government hopes to increase infection prevention and control expertise across the aged care sector. This comes in response to findings in the Independent Review into the Newmarch House COVID-19 Outbreak and the COVID-19 Special Report by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Both reports noted the need for stronger leadership in infection control in aged care.
To receive the second COVID-19 funding supplement, aged care homes must meet the IPC lead requirements.
Role of the IPC lead
The dedicated onsite IPC lead will need to:
- be able to provide clear communication and support to the Approved Provider, who retains overall responsibility for IPC within the home
- have the ability to provide advice and oversight as part of ongoing, day to day operations and on a localised basis with regard to facility circumstances. This could include the resident mix, staff mix, services offered and physical aspects of a facility
- have the skills to lead the creation and updating of procedures to reflect best practice and current legislative and regulatory requirements
- have the capacity to monitor IPC practices within the home to determine where shortfalls may exist, and implement appropriate actions and manage these issues together with other appropriate managers and staff within the home
- have the availability and skills to provide reliable advice for both staff and management to ensure IPC responsibilities are upheld
- have a strong understanding of the Aged Quality Standards, particularly Standard 3 (3) (g) and Standards 8 (3) (d) and (e)
- participate in the continuous improvement activities of the home in regard to IPC.
It is expected this role will also provide an additional career pathway for nurses in aged care.
Appoint an IPC lead by 1 December 2020
You must appoint an IPC lead by 1 December 2020.
Whom should you appoint as your IPC lead?
According to the Department of Health, the IPC lead:
- must be a member of the nursing staff (i.e. RN or EN) who has completed (or initially is in the process of completing) an identified IPC course
- must be employed by and report to the provider
- must work on site and be dedicated to a facility
- may have a broader role in the facility, and could be an existing member of the nursing staff.
Report the details of your nominated IPC lead by 4 December 2020
By 4 December you must report the details of your IPC via the My Aged Care provider portal. But you can’t make this report yet. According to the Department of Health, the ability to report this information will be made available from 1 December 2020.
What information will you need to report?
According to the Department of Health, you will need to report:
- the name of the IPC lead
- the position they hold in the facility
- their nursing registration status
- confirmation of their completion of our COVID-19 online training modules.
If the nominated IPC lead has already enrolled in or completed a suitable IPC training course, you can also report those training details.
Complete training for the IPC lead by 31 December 2020
By 31 December 2020, the IPC lead must have completed the Department of Health’s COVID-19 infection control online training modules, specifically:
- Infection Control Training – COVID 19
- all aged care modules, except 2.2 or 9.2 which relate to home care.
This deadline is a little confusing. The Department advises that these courses must be completed by 31 December 2020, but the Department also advises that providers must log into the My Aged Care Portal by 4 December 2020 to report that the courses have been completed. To resolve this confusion, we recommend you complete the online courses by 4 December 2020.
IPC leads should keep a copy of their completion certificates for verification purposes.
By 31 December 2020, the nominated IPC lead must have completed or enrolled in a suitable IPC training course. The course must have an identified date for completion that is before 28 February 2021. The course may take approximately 80 hours to complete, so try to get started before February so your nominated IPC lead can finish in time.
What is a “suitable IPC training course”?
According to the Department of Health, for an IPC course to be deemed suitable, it must:
- focus on infection prevention and control
- be specified at the level of AQF8
- be delivered by a recognised education or training provider
- have an assessment, or assessments, that facilitate successful completion of the course.
The Foundations of Infection Prevention and Control course offered by the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC) meets the requirements. ACIPC has confirmed they are able to deliver this course within the timeframes outlined to meet IPC lead requirements.
Other identified training courses that meet the educational requirements are:
- Graduate Certificate in Infection Prevention and Control, Griffith University
- Master in Infection Prevention and Control, Griffith University
- Graduate Certificate of Infection Control, James Cook University
- Graduate Certificate in Nursing Science (Infection Control Nursing), University of Adelaide
Those who have completed one of these courses before 28 February 2021 meet the training requirements.
Update your report with training details by 31 December 2020
Once your nominated IPC lead has enrolled in their training course you will need to return to the My Aged Care provider portal and update your report to include the course details. You must get this done by 31 December 2020.
Report on Expenditure after the end of the 2020-21 financial year
The Department of Health advises that in addition to the online reporting, you must provide information about the expenditure associated with the COVID-19 supplement through reporting obligations linked to the Aged Care Financial Report (ACFR).
For the 2020–21 financial year, the ACFR will require reporting associated with IPC, including the cost associated with the engagement or training of an IPC lead. You should retain evidence associated with expenditure, including evidence of course expenditure and completion.
- Department of Health: Infection Prevention and Control Leads
- Independent Review into the Newmarch House COVID-19 Outbreak
- COVID-19 Special Report by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
- Letter for approved providers from the Secretary of the Department of Health Regarding Infection Control Lead
- Foundations of Infection Prevention and Control for Aged Care Staff - Training
Free Infection Control Resources from CompliSpace
CompliSpace has created free resources to help Residential Aged Care facilities including:
Webinar recording: “Understanding the Gaps in Infection Control Plans that can put Residential Aged Care Facilities at Risk”
Free Audit tools:
- Outbreak (COVID-19) Preparedness Audit Tool
- Outbreak Management (COVID-19) Audit Tool
- Post Outbreak (COVID-19) Audit Tool
Simply request the webinar recording and you'll be directed to the recording and links to the free audit tools.