As of 5 December 2022

NSW is experiencing a COVID-19 wave. Home care service providers and employers should:

  • encourage clients to be up to date with their vaccinations.
  • encourage clients to speak to their GP for pre-assessment for antiviral medicines to support timely access and safe administration.
  • be prepared, so providers and clients remain COVID-Safe during the festive season.
  • ensure business continuity plans are in place to support adequate staffing coverage.

The advice on this page also applies to people working within the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

COVID-19 safety measures for home care service providers

All in-home care service providers should maintain vigilance to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into a person's home.

Providers should undertake their own risk assessments to determine safe delivery of services. These should take into consideration the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, vaccination status of both staff and client and types of services being provided.

Staff should actively ask clients about symptoms on arrival. If staff become aware of a client with symptoms, arrangements should be made for COVID-19 testing.

Throughout this document, reference is made to Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) Guidance.

Staff

Employers should ensure they have business continuity plans in place to support adequate staffing coverage, particularly during the COVID-19 wave.

Staff, including students, contractors, volunteers, pathology collectors and therapists should not provide a home care service if they:

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19. Staff should not provide a home care service for 7 days after their positive test. Employers should follow guidance outlined in table 1, page 8 of the relevant ARI Guidance to determine when it is safe for employees to return to work. The Australian Government’s High-Risk Settings Pandemic Payment is available for eligible staff who work in a high risk setting, including home care support services, and cannot go to work because they have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. See section Staff exposed to COVID-19 below for further information.
  • Have acute respiratory or influenza-like symptoms. For more detail about symptoms, see page 4 of the relevant ARI Guidance.

Staff exposed to COVID-19

If the exposure has been in the workplace, managers should refer to Appendix 2 of the RACF ARI Guidance to support decision making for when staff can safely return to work, particularly if they are critical to service delivery.

If the exposure has been outside of the workplace, staff should refer to the Advice for people exposed to COVID-19 fact sheet. Employers are encouraged to determine their own advice for when it is safe for employees to return to work. This may include asking the staff member to take additional precautions to decrease the risk of transmission and test regularly after exposure to someone with COVID-19. Managers should refer to COVID-19 advice for staff in high-risk community and/or private settings to support their decision making.

Testing for COVID-19

It is recommended that home care staff undergo a COVID-19 RAT at least every 3 days.

Mask wearing

All home care staff should wear a surgical mask covering their nose and mouth whilst providing in-home care. This is particularly important at times of high community transmission. A staff member may remove their mask:

  • while communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • if wearing a mask creates a risk to health and safety
  • where clear enunciation or visibility of your mouth is essential
  • if they are working in an indoor area and there is no other person is in the area.

Anyone removing a mask for one of these reasons should remain 1.5 metres from others, particularly in indoor communal areas.

Vaccination

Staff and clients should be strongly encouraged to stay up to date with all vaccinations including COVID-19 and influenza, to aid protection against severe disease for themselves and others.

Day activity programs

Day activity programs are permitted to operate

Staff and participants should not attend if they have tested positive to COVID-19, have any COVID-19 symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

In arranging activities, day program providers should maintain COVID-19 safe practices including:

  • encouraging all staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated
  • encourage everyone to wear a mask when indoors
  • encouraging regular use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 meters from other people
  • have COVID-19 occupational health and safety plans in place.

Antiviral medicine usage for clients

Providers should encourage clients to meet with their GPs to develop a care management plan, which will help to support vaccination, testing and treatment for COVID-19. Clients who are at high risk of severe illness may be eligible for antiviral medicines.

  • COVID-19 antiviral medicines are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for people who meet eligibility criteria.
  • The administration of antiviral treatment as soon as possible after symptom onset for people with COVID-19 reduces disease severity and can prevent hospitalisation or death.
  • GPs are encouraged to use the Antiviral Pre-Assessment form to establish an advance preference for people to receive COVID-19 and influenza antiviral medicines to support timely access and safe administration.

Further information

  • The Commonwealth Department of Health has issued a Guide for Home Care Providers to assist staff in reducing the risk of COVID-19.
  • Please seek the advice of your local NSW Health Public Health Unit if you are in doubt about how to appropriately mitigate risk when providing home care services on 1300 066 055.
  • For more information about NDIS-related issues, including any funding issues relating to compliance with these measures for NDIS participants, contact:

Current as at: Monday 5 December 2022
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW