Infection Control Spot Checks in Residential Aged Care: What Providers Need to Know

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) is stepping up its program of infection control spot checks of residential aged care homes.

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Weekly Wrap: 26 July 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 26 July 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 26 July 2020.

The information in the Weekly Wrap is aggregated from other news sources to provide you with news that is relevant to the aged care sector across Australia and worldwide. Each paragraph is a summary of the subject matter covered in the particular news article. The information does not necessarily reflect the views of CompliSpace and Critical Success Solutions.


Coronavirus / COVID-19 News

Announcement regarding support for aged care residents and aged care workers across Victoria

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, the Australian and Victorian Governments, in collaboration with representatives from the aged care sector, have announced additional measures to ensure aged care providers are equipped to minimise the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to provide quality care. This includes specific support to reduce the need for aged care workers to provide care across multiple aged care facilities. The measures being introduced include:

  • Workforce funding support to ensure aged care workers are not financially disadvantaged for working at a single site or self-isolating where directed
  • An industry program to reduce the sharing of staff across aged care facilities
  • More Infection control training for aged care workers
  • Enhanced surveillance and prioritising contact tracing for aged care workers and residents
  • Five new COVID-19 testing teams for Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire 
  • Working with private hospitals to create additional capacity to care for aged care residents from outbreak sites

Further details on these measures will be provided to the aged care sector shortly.

 

Statement clarifying implementation of Guiding Principles for residential aged care – keeping Victoria residents and workers safe

According to The Department of Health, the Australian Government is supporting the aged care sector respond to the current COVID-19 crisis in Victoria through the provision of funding to assist the implementation of the Guiding Principles for residential aged care – keeping Victoria residents and workers safe. The Commonwealth’s support is designed to help employers and employees develop voluntary arrangements to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This builds on the announcement of 19 July 2020 by the Hon Greg Hunt MP, in which a range of Australian and Victorian Government measures were announced to support aged care workers and residents across Victoria.

The expectation is providers in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will adhere to these guidelines for the next 8 weeks. No provider or worker will be financially disadvantaged as a result of these Guidelines. In addition to paying for supernumerary hours, the Australian Government will also provide funding support for:

  • Leave for workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are required to self-isolate in accordance with public health orders where they do not have sufficient leave provisioned or where leave is exhausted, less the $1,500 payable by the Victorian Government under its workforce funding support program
  • Training of additional workers where existing employees are unable to work due to self‑isolation/quarantine requirements.

These arrangements will be detailed in broader Grant Opportunity Guidelines which will explain when and how providers can apply for this support. These will be available in the near future.

 

Victorian mobile testing clinics fact sheet

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, an information sheet on the mobile testing clinics in residential aged care facilities in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire has been published. This resource offers further information on the mobile testing service and why these measures are so crucial in identifying asymptomatic positive cases before they have the chance to spread. We encourage all providers to participate in this testing. Aspen Medical will be in contact with you to schedule a time for the mobile testing clinics to come to you.

 

Proactive testing starts at Vic facilities while peaks call for mandatory hospital transfers

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, mobile COVID-19 testing teams have been deployed to swab people living and working in residential aged care in Victoria’s lockdown zones as the number of positive cases among residents and facilities skyrockets. The initiative aims to help health authorities identify instances of community transmission before an outbreak occurs.

 

Government is enforcing face masks for aged care workers in Melbourne hotspots

According to Aged Care Guide, since the latest statewide lockdown of Victoria, the Federal Government is requiring all aged care workers in COVID-19 hotspot areas of Melbourne to wear face masks to protect themselves and their residents from the coronavirus spread.

 

More virus cases, deaths in Vic aged care homes

According to Aged Care Guide, more aged care homes in Victoria have faced coronavirus outbreaks with three further deaths linked to the sector. Three of the latest five deaths in the state were connected to aged care – a woman in her 70s and two men in their 80s and 90s. Victoria’s COVID-19 death toll hit 49 on Thursday with the national total now at 133. The latest deaths follow two men aged in their 90s, linked to aged care settings, confirmed dead on Wednesday.

 

Concern over facilities locking out visitors unnecessarily

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a consumer peak body has raised concerns over Victorian aged care facilities breaching the agreed industry visitor code by locking down more strongly than required as infections continue to spread through the state’s aged care homes. Provider peak bodies say facilities are responding to the situation on a case by case basis. At the same time, staff and particularly those moving between facilities have been identified as a greater risk to residents than visitors. The situation in Victorian residential aged care facilities is continuing to escalate with at least 28 of the state’s 428 new cases announced on Friday linked to aged care homes.

 

Advice for home care service providers in NSW

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, as COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and now in NSW continue to emerge, it is crucial that all home care service providers maintain vigilance to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into their services. Given the current risk of COVID-19 now in the community, NSW Health recommends the implementation of the following measures:

  • Any staff with fever or respiratory symptoms, even mild, should be excluded from work. They should be advised to isolate at home and seek COVID-19 testing.
  • Any staff who have been in Victoria in the last two weeks should be excluded from providing home care services.
  • Any staff who reside in the Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly local government areas, must wear a surgical mask while providing services until at least the end of July.
  • When providing care to clients who live in, or have visited the above local government areas, staff must wear a surgical mask while providing services until at least the end of July.
  • 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.

Read Dr Kerry Chant’s letter to in-home care providers here.

 

New process for requesting PPE

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, the Australian Government is prioritising Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution from the National Medical Stockpile to aged care services that are most in need. To ensure PPE from the National Medical Stockpile is effectively prioritised on a needs-basis, providers are being asked to complete a new Aged Care PPE Request Form. This form will be sent to you via email after an initial inquiry is made via the agedcarecovidppe@health.gov.au email address.

 

Workforce retention bonus payment

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, the workforce retention payments grant round will close on 31 July 2020. Don’t leave your application until the last minute as due to the volume of claims submitted, payments are now moving into August with the second payment scheduled for late September. The Department has fielded worker enquiries asking when they will receive the bonus, so please ensure you keep communication open with eligible workers.

To ensure that applications can be processed promptly providers are reminded to include their provider ID and service ID on the Staffing Profile Spreadsheet supplied on the GrantConnect website. All information regarding this grant opportunity can be found on the GrantConnect website. In addition we have Retention Bonus FAQs to assist providers and their employees.

 

New Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Resource: Are You Alert and Ready - Residential Services Australia-wide

The advice in this resource has been prepared by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s Chief Clinical Advisor Dr Melanie Wroth, to support residential aged care services across Australia in preparing for and responding to a COVID-19 outbreak, complementing the earlier version that was for Victorian providers. The advice is informed by the Commission’s involvement in monitoring and supporting providers to identify and mitigate pandemic-related risks, including managing an outbreak in their service, and the lessons learned from these experiences.

 

Promising results from Oxford vaccine

According to Hospital and Healthcare, there are about 250 candidate vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 in development worldwide, including mRNA vaccines, replicating or non-replicating viral vectored vaccines, DNA vaccines, autologous dendritic cell-based vaccine and inactive virus vaccines. At least 17 of them are currently under evaluation in clinical trials. Early results from non-replicating viral vector vaccines being trialled in the UK and China have been published in The Lancet, finding that the vaccines induce an immune response in most patients, with few adverse side effects reported. The two vaccines are being developed separately: one by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, the other by CanSino Biologics and China’s military research unit.

 

Other News

Australians strongly support funding of high-quality aged care

According to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, landmark new research by Flinders University shows Australians strongly support increased funding to ensure universal access to high-quality aged care services in the future. The research is the first of its kind internationally and was conducted for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Based on a survey of 10,000 adults not currently using aged care services, its findings are presented in Research Paper 6 – Australia’s aged care system: assessing the views and preferences of the general public for quality of care and future funding. The research paper is available on the Royal Commission’s website.

 

New survey shows most Aussies want more funding for aged care, willing to pay for it: Royal Commission

According to Aged Care Guide, a largescale survey of 10,000 adults shows that Australians believe the government should increase funding to the aged care sector. The research paper involved speaking with adults not currently using aged care services and found that 90 per cent of those surveyed agreed that the government should provide higher funding for aged care services. Almost 60 per cent agreed there should be a reallocation of public expenditure to aged care. And on average, those people thought the share of public expenditure to aged care should be doubled.

 

New head of aged care cultural diversity centre appointed

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, Victorian aged care provider Benetas has appointed social worker Lisa Tribuzio to lead the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing. The role also includes delivering the objectives of the federally-funded Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care program to improve the relationships between aged care providers and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The CCDA, which is part of Benetas and PICAC, also provides support to Victorian aged care providers and a website of resources available to everyone.

 

Use of physical and chemical restraint in residential aged care – tell us your views

Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA), on behalf of the Department of Health, is seeking the views of residential aged care management and staff (nursing and allied health staff and personal care workers) to inform a legislated review of Part 4A of the Quality of Care Principles 2014 (the Restraints Principles). Even if you’re not aware of the Restraints Principles, AHA would still like to hear your views on the use of restraint in residential aged care. If you would like to contribute, please complete the anonymous survey by Friday 14 August 2020. You can find more information about the review and the survey link on the AHA website.

 

Stroke numbers head south

According to Hospital and Healthcare, a report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals that more Australians are surviving stroke. The AIHW report on cardiovascular disease shows a substantial decline in the death rate from stroke since 1981, with 30% fewer people losing their life to the disease (from around 12,000 to 8400 annually) despite the population almost doubling in that time.

 

ROYAL COMMISSION: Mental health, oral health and allied health

According to Aged Care Guide, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety held its first hearings last week since their postponement due to COVID-19, which covered mental, oral and allied health services and the difficulty older people in aged care have accessing these services.

 

National Congress on food, nutrition and the dining experience in aged care homes

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, the department is partnering with the Maggie Beer Foundation to deliver a National Congress on food, nutrition and the dining experience in aged care. The Congress aims to find innovative options to improve nutrition and the food experience for older Australians in aged care services. The Congress will bring together a select group of experts and stakeholders to connect current expert views and resources. Experiences from large and small providers, experts from national bodies and the food industry, will be showcased. In preparation for the Congress, we will be conducting a Survey of Food, Nutrition and the Dining Experience in Australian Aged Care Homes. This survey will be part of a comprehensive review and will inform discussions at the Congress. More details on the survey will be provided soon.

 

'Caring for people living with dementia during COVID-19 restrictions' Webinar

FREE Webinar: Caring for people living with dementia during COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday 22 July 2020, 3:00pm-4:00pm

We encourage people working in aged care to watch this webinar to learn about how to provide safe care for older people with dementia during COVID-19 restrictions. Older people receiving aged care, their families, friends and representatives are also encouraged to watch. For more information and to register click here.

 

Update on the Specialist Dementia Care Program

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to The Department of Health, the Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) supports people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia who cannot be cared for in a mainstream aged care facility. Under the SDCP, a prototype unit opened in Inglewood, Perth in September 2019. As a result of the first funding round a further nine units are opening in 2020. These units are in eight Primary Health Network regions.

Referrals can now be made via the Dementia Support Australia website to units in:

  • Adelaide (Felixstowe)
  • Australian Capital Territory (Weston)
  • Brisbane North (Taigum)
  • Brisbane South (Upper Mt Gravatt)
  • Hunter New England and Central Coast (Cardiff)
  • North Queensland (Mackay)
  • Perth North (Inglewood)
  • South Eastern Melbourne (Caulfield)
  • North Western Melbourne (Flemington and Sunshine North).

We will provide details about the phase two funding opportunity when it becomes available. For more information, including eligibility requirements, visit the department’s website.

 

Legislation

COVID-19 Emergency Response (Further Measures) (No 2) Amendment Bill 2020 (SA) – Passed Council introduced to Assembly 22 July 2020

A Bill for an Act to amend the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 to firstly, include pharmacists, pharmacy assistants and persons performing duties in a pharmacy, as well as medical practitioners, nurses or otherwise performing duties at a place where medical treatment is provided or medical testing is undertaken, including a general practice, medical centre or place at which people are screened for COVID-19 or other diseases within the scope of a prescribed emergency worker under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 to provide them with the same additional protection as other front-line health workers.

Secondly, the amendment Bill also seeks to amend the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010 to provide the Pharmacy Regulation Authority South Australia with the express power to authorise certain pharmacy premises to operate without a pharmacist physically in attendance, provided they are in attendance through the use of computer, video or audio links - allowing the pharmacist to communicate with patients and appropriately trained pharmacy staff remotely.

 

Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Residential Medication Chart) Regulations 2020 (Vic) – commenced 23 July 2020

The objective of these Regulations is to amend the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2017 to provide for the supply of a Schedule 8 poison from a residential medication chart that is an electronic medication chart.

 

Controlled Substances (Confidentiality and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2020 (SA) – introduced to Council and second reading agreed 21 July 2020

A Bill for an Act to amend the Controlled Substances Act 1984 to establish a Real-Time Prescription Monitoring software to integrate with existing prescriber and pharmacist software to provide access to real-time prescribing and dispensing information and to enable real-time detection and alerts for regulators and prescribers.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

New Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Resources – issued June 2020

The ACQSC has issued the following resources:

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Glossary: The Commission has produced a glossary of common terms to aid understanding of the aged care services sector. The list is not intended to be exhaustive and is provided as general information only.

Common questions you may want to ask residential aged care services about COVID-19: You, your friends and family have a right to know how your residential aged care service is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have developed some common questions that you can ask your service provider during this time.

Service Compliance Ratings Fact Sheet: The Department of Health, in partnership with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission), is introducing a service compliance rating system for residential aged care services. The rating system was developed in consultation with stakeholders, including senior Australians, their caregivers, aged care providers, and a range of peak bodies.

 

Flu vaccination poster

The Department of Health has issued this Flu Vaccination Poster. Residential aged care facilities may wish to display the attached poster at entrances, to alert anyone entering the facility of the flu vaccination requirements that came into effect on 1 May 2020.

 

Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line

According to The Department of Health, a new Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line has been set up to provide information, support and check on older Australians during the period of social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COTA Australia, National Seniors, Dementia Australia and the Older Person’s Advocacy Network have banded together to deliver this service with support from the Australian Government.

Senior Australians, their families and carers can freecall 1800 171 866 if they:

  • would like to talk with someone about what COVID-19 means for them or a loved one
  • are feeling lonely or distressed
  • are caring for a someone and need some information or a listening ear about what COVID-19 means for your circumstances
  • are worried about COVID-19 means for their usual aged care service
  • are worried about a friend or family member living with dementia.
  • are unable to access information on the internet and would like up-to-date advice.

Home care services providers can also use the number and dial option 1 to refer home care clients who would like a call from an independent organisation to check on their wellbeing.

The service will include outbound and inbound calls to provide contact, reassurance and practical advice on connecting to services to maximise social engagement and wellbeing whilst at home.

 

Resources on diverse population groups are now available for aged care staff

According to The Department of Health, The End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) website helps you to care for older Australians at the end of life. Our new diversity resources can help health workers and aged care staff to care for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Care leavers
  • Carers
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse people
  • Financially or socially disadvantaged people
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
  • People living in rural and remote areas
  • People with spirituality and faith beliefs
  • Veterans

How people think about death, dying and end of life is different for each person. Learning about these differences can help you to provide good palliative care. Access these resources on the Diverse Population Groups page of the ELDAC website.

 

Calculating residential accommodation payments in a leap year

This year is a leap year, with 366 days instead of 365. The Department of Health has received queries from approved providers of residential care seeking advice on how to calculate a daily accommodation payment (DAP) in a leap year. The calculators specified in the Fees and Payments Principles 2014 (No. 2) (the Principles) refer to 365 days for working out:

  • the DAP (or contribution) equivalent to a refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) (or contribution)
  • the amount of interest on a RAD (or contribution) balance or accommodation bond balance.

Even though 2020 is a leap year, residential care providers should continue to use 365 days when calculating DAP amounts and the interest payable on refunds of lump sum deposits. But please be aware that daily payments and daily contributions are payable for 366 days in 2020.

 

What Matters Most – New person centred care resources

According to The Department of Health, Palliative Care Australia, through a Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund grant, has launched a suite of resources to encourage early conversations about What Matters Most to older people, their care and their end of life preferences.

 

6 steps for safe prescribing antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in residential aged care

Issued by the Department of Health, this infographic outlines the 6 steps for safe prescribing antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in residential aged care.

 

Aged care video alert: Dignity of risk

According to Lexology, the concept of dignity of risk is not entirely new, however it now has a position of prominence in aged care with the Aged Care Quality Standards. In this video update, senior associate Dr Melanie Tan explains:

  • What does dignity of risk mean?
  • Where and when does dignity of risk apply?
  • What is the duty of care within dignity of risk?

 

ACE Editorial Team
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | ACE Editorial Team
ACE is published by CompliSpace and Critical Success Solutions. CompliSpace is an Australian company that specialises in helping organisations manage their legal and regulatory obligations. Critical Success Solutions is an Australian company that specialises in helping Aged Care and Disability Services manage their regulatory and legal requirements.

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