What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 (also referred to as coronavirus or novel coronavirus) is a respiratory illness that was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China and has since spread globally. There are currently confirmed cases of COVID-19 in nearly all Australian states and territories and the situation is changing rapidly. COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person and symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia. Current information about COVID-19 shows the majority of people infected have a mild form of the illness, however older people are at much greater risk of serious illness
For specific information and advice for older people please read the ‘Fact Sheet: For Older Australians on COVID-19’ here.
For general information about COVID-19 including current government recommendations and restrictions read the ‘What you need to know’ Fact Sheet here. This Fact Sheet is also available in Simplified Chinese, Farsi, and Korean.
For non-English speakers or if English is a second language, please contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) if would like assistance with understanding this information via https://www.tisnational.gov.
Protect yourself, your family and your community
Special Edition Webinar: COVID-19 and what it means for people in Aged Care
Wednesday 25 March, 9:30am – 10:15am AEDT
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has created significant uncertainty in Australia, especially in aged care. There is a lot of fear surrounding COVID-19, and the situation is moving rapidly. The Australian Government has recently imposed restrictions on aged care visitation, and some providers have introduced further measures to ensure the spread of COVID-19 is contained.
Representatives from OPAN, Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) (a peak agency of aged care providers), the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and St Andrews Village gave updates and information for older people, their families and their representatives about the current situation in the aged care industry regarding COVID-19.
Watch the webinar below:
What is being done to contain COVID-19?
We acknowledge that there is a lot of fear surrounding COVID-19. The Australian Government is well prepared and has initiated the ‘Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)’ which builds on many years of planning for similar events, including lessons from the swine flu epidemic in Australia. The Australian Government is providing a $2.4 billion health package to support the implementation of this plan. You can read about how this funding has been allocated here.
The Australian Government Department of Health, in conjunction with state and territory health departments, is actively monitoring cases of COVID-19 and responding to its evolving nature. There is currently a daily ‘Coronavirus health alert’ in place with the latest medical advice and official reports; and state and territory health departments are managing the local response.
- Access the ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert’ here.
- For health and situation information or for advice on what to do if you have respiratory symptoms call the 24-hour National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
- Check state and territory health department websites for updates
What are aged care providers doing?
Aged care providers are expected to:
- maintain their infection control protocols in line with national guidelines; and
- establish and be ready to activate a COVID-19 emergency response plan to include: first steps if an infection is suspected or identified; arrangements to ensure adequate care of the individual; protection measures for other residents, visitors and staff; and notification advice to families, staff, and relevant authorities
- reduce visitors to residential aged care facilities to protect older people. For current advice, please refer to the ‘Fact Sheet: For Families and Residents on Restricted Visits to Residential Aged Care Facilities’ here.
- While the current government advice is to reduce visitors, in order to protect older people in their care, some residential aged care facilities have made the decision to stop all visitors except in ‘exceptional circumstances’. OPAN is working with aged care service providers to provide clarity around ‘exceptional circumstances’
- We acknowledge that this is a very stressful and upsetting time for residents, families, and aged care providers. We ask residents and families to please be respectful to services and aged care workers. Please follow their directions in relation to COVID-19 infection control measures including good hygiene and social distancing. These measures are at this stage precautionary and preventative and are in place to protect older people
- It is important that services communicate effectively with residents and families about their protocol and processes, including how they will ensure communication with family and friends outside of the facility is maintained. Above all, aged care rights must be respected. The Charter of Aged Care Rights remains in place to protect older people, read the charter here
- If you would like to speak with an Aged Care Advocate, please contact us via the details below.
Talk to your aged care provider about what they have in place.
How can OPAN help?
As an older person receiving aged care services, family member, or carer you may have questions and concerns about the implications of COVID-19.
We are here to help. Please call us on 1800 237 981, 8am-8pm (AEDT), Monday to Friday or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to us about any issues or concerns you have in relation to COVID-19 or if you need help engaging with your aged care provider.
* Information updated 22 March 2020