The NSW Ministry of Health has developed advice for the safe and efficient discharge from hospital of new and returning residents of residential aged care facilities. The advice includes a screening process and a discharge summary template.
To provide a consistent approach for discharging older people to residential aged care facilities (RACFs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. A consistent approach will provide confidence that all new and returning residents at the time of discharge from hospital to RACFs have been screened by an appropriate medical officer and:
- were not experiencing acute respiratory symptoms or fevers compatible with COVID-19 and
- had not had any close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient in hospital.
Facilities are still required to follow the Communicable Diseases Network Australia guidelines (section 3.2.1) for active screening of new/returning residents.
- RACF providers have a duty of care to their residents and are seeking sufficient information from NSW Health to ensure the discharged patient has been screened for COVID-19 symptoms at time of discharge. Screening and testing for COVID-19 follows the current advice on screening and testing for COVID-19 from NSW Health.
- As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, hospitals will be faced with increasing numbers of acutely unwell COVID-19 patients. To ensure that hospitals can be as responsive as possible, it is critical that hospitals efficiently discharge patients who no longer require hospital care.
- Older people who are medically fit and ready for discharge but whose discharge is delayed are at risk of further deterioration associated with lengthy hospital stays. It is essential to ensure that people who do not need to be in hospital do not remain there unnecessarily.
- NSW Health will now include a letter in the discharge paper work signed by the treating team confirming the person has been screened for COVID-19 symptoms. A template can be found at COVID-19 discharge letter to RAFS.
- This approach is consistent with advice in the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) statement and the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) guidelines.