Apr 08, 2020

Advice for older Australians at work

People aged 70 and over, people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 with one or more chronic medical condition are at greater risk of serious illness if they are infected with coronavirus (COVID-19).

For these reasons, the National Cabinet has asked that older Australians stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to leave their homes – for purposes like food shopping, medical appointments and exercise.

However, many older Australians provide essential aged care services and it is vitally important during this time that continuity of essential services is maintained.

Care workers who fall in the above groups, including but not limited to nurses, allied health professionals, catering, cleaning and support staff, can continue to attend work as long as the risk to their health at work can be mitigated. This means a risk assessment must be undertaken to understand if steps can be taken to reduce potential risks to their health. If these risks cannot be mitigated, employers and employees should consider alternative arrangements, including redeployment to a non-customer based role, or accommodating a workplace absence.

AHPPC recommends that special provisions apply to essential workers who are at higher risk of serious illness and, where the risk cannot be sufficiently mitigated, should not work in high-risk setting.

As with all health workers, you must not go to work and you must immediately alert your employer if:

  • you have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • you have a fever, or you have any symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion).

Practising good hand and cough hygiene and social distancing, are the best defence against coronavirus. Advice on hygiene practises and social distancing is available at health.gov.au.

It is also recommended that aged care and healthcare workers undertake online training to protect themselves when working in an aged care setting.

This information was provided by the Department of Health.

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