As of 19 September 2023
NSW respiratory surveillance report provides an indication of transmission of key respiratory viruses (influenza, COVID-19 and RSV) in the community. COVID-19 and influenza vaccines offer the best protection against severe illness from COVID-19 and influenza. Facilities are encouraged to:
Residential disability care facilities (RDCF) include:
This advice includes information for:
All NSW residents are recommended to stay at home and to have a COVID-19 test if they develop any cold or flu symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever).
RDCFs may have residents who are at higher risk of severe illness if they develop COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Providers of residential disability care need to balance their responsibilities to reduce the risk of COVID-19, influenza and RSV transmission in RDCFs while meeting the physical, social, and emotional needs of residents.
Facilities should have appropriate preparedness plans in place to ensure a timely response to acute respiratory infections (ARIs). The plan should consider the wellbeing of the case/s as well as the vulnerability of others living within the facility. Facilities should refer to Guidance for disability care facilities on the public health management of acute respiratory infections (RDCF ARI Guidance) for outbreak management advice.
Receiving visitors is essential for wellbeing and helps to reduce the impacts of social isolation. RDCFs should ensure their residents are provided the opportunity to safely receive visitors. Facilities may determine their own advice to allow visitations to safely occur. Visits are allowed to occur even if there are COVID-19 cases in the facility.
The risk of spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses can be reduced by supporting visits to occur in the safest possible way. Risk mitigation strategies include:
For all visitors, wearing a mask indoors is encouraged when respiratory viruses are circulating at
high levels in the community, as per the
NSW respiratory surveillance report.
Staff, including students, contractors, volunteers, pathology collectors and therapists should not enter an RDCF if they have:
It’s encouraged that facilities provide free RATs to staff to promote testing as required but regular surveillance testing is not required when there are low levels of COVID-19 in the community. Please note that staff with respiratory symptoms should not attend work even with a negative RAT result.
Ventilation is an important factor in minimising spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections. The key principle is to bring in fresh air to dilute the indoor air; simply re-circulating indoor air (for example, a fan) is not effective. Natural ventilation should be used wherever possible. RDCFs can consider seeking professional advice from an occupational hygienist or ventilation engineer. Carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors and HEPA filters may play a role but require users to have a good understanding of how to use them.