Aug 12, 2020

Department of Heath issues coronavirus updates for aged care workers

Use of face shields and goggles in residential aged care facilities

In residential aged care facilities, face shields or other protective eyewear (such as goggles) should be worn for the routine care of suspected, probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Guidance on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in areas with significant community transmission is available on the Department’s website. The risk of COVID-19 from transmission via the eye is unknown. However, as the predominant mode of transmission is via droplets, eye (and conjunctival) protection should be worn until further evidence emerges.

In geographical areas with significant community transmission, face shields should be worn by all staff working in residential aged care facilities (in addition to other PPE, including a surgical mask or particulate filter respirator). This includes support staff who do not have patient contact. This is due to the high risk or transmission in residential care facilities and the vulnerability of residents to infection.

Use of P2/N95 Respirators in Victoria

Due to an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19, the Victorian PPE Taskforce has updated its advice for all healthcare workers  in Victoria.

The Victorian government has issued guidance on the use of P2/N95 respirators. Health care workers must wear a N95/P2 respirator:

  • in settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are cohorted and where frequent, prolonged episodes of care are provided (i.e. providing care for a patient on a dedicated COVID-19 ward).
  • in uncontrolled settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are cohorted, to avoid the need for frequent changes of N95/P2 respirators.
  • where suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are cohorted and there is risk of unplanned aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) and/or aerosol generating behaviours.
  • when undertaking an AGP on suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) patient.

Victorian Permitted Worker Scheme

Under Stage 4 restrictions, employers that require their staff to attend a work site must issue a worker permit to their employees.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has provided the following advice:

  • Workers in aged care and disability need a permit.
  • A registered nurse who primarily works for a non-government provider of aged care or disability will also need a permit to work in those settings.
  • A hospital or health worker who is exempt from needing to obtain and carry a permit will retain that exemption if they are seconded to work temporarily in a non-government aged care setting. (with photo ID etc). This exemption extends to AUSMAT teams.

More about the Victorian Permitted Worker Scheme COVID-19 can be found here.

Updated Restrictions and advice from NSW

The NSW Chief Health Officer has released new advice to aged care providers.

As part of preparedness planning, aged care providers should put in place arrangements to limit staff working across facilities.

Where ceasing staff movement across facilities is not practicable, staff movement should be minimised and additional measures should be put in place, such as maintaining records of staff and work locations and increasing use of PPE.

The local government area of Hornsby Shire and Hills District, has also been added to the list of regions required to implement the following measures:

  • Any visitors to any residential aged care facility who have been in the following local government areas in the previous 14 days should be excluded from the facility: Hornsby Shire, Hills District, Newcastle, Merrylands (suburb), Guildford (suburb), Canterbury-Bankstown (Bankstown part), Waverley, Woollahra, eastern part of City of Sydney (Sydney, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Rushcutters Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Centennial Park. Removed: Eveleigh, Alexandria, Beaconsfield, Rosebery and Eastlakes), Parramatta, Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown and Camden.
  • All aged care staff who reside in the above local government areas or a NSW/VIC border community must wear a surgical mask while in the facility.
  • Staff and visitors who have visited any of the locations on the same date as a COVID-19 case (see updated list of venues and dates) should be excluded for a period of 14 days since their visit to the listed location.
  • All residential aged care staff who work in residential aged care facilities located within the above LGAs and in communities along the NSW/VIC border must wear a surgical mask while in the facility.
  • Residential aged care facilities in the above local government areas should not allow any visitors (visitors performing essential caring functions may be allowed but must wear a mask). In exceptional circumstances, seek advice from your local NSW Health public health unit on 1300 066 055.

Home Care Service Providers who either live or work in any of these designated local government areas must also wear face masks while providing services.

In NSW/VIC border communities, only visitors from NSW are permitted providing:

  • The facility must obtain name and contact detail of visitors (in case there is a need for contact tracing)
  • The visitor is checked against the above questions
  • The temperature of the visitor is checked to be below 37.5 degrees Celsius
  • The visitor is escorted directly to the room (single room) of their loved one, and must remain within the room for the duration of the visit. At the completion of the visit, the visitor is to be escorted directly back to the reception area
  • A surgical mask is to be worn at all times
  • Hand hygiene is facilitated
  • Visits are restricted to once/day for each person
  • A maximum of two visitors at a time; children are to be closely supervised.

Measures such as phone or video calls should be made available to all residents to enable continuation of communication with family, friends or others who are not allowed to enter the facility at this time.

Read the latest NSW advice for residential aged care providers and home care service providers.


This advice was provided The Department of Health. For further information please visit the department’s website.

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