As of 20 May 2024

The NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report provides an indication of transmission of key respiratory viruses (COVID-19, influenza and RSV) in the community. COVID-19 and influenza vaccines offer the best protection against severe illness from these viruses. Home care service providers should:

  • encourage clients to be up to date with recommended vaccinations, including COVID-19 and influenza. It is safe for COVID-19 vaccines to be administered on the same day as an influenza vaccine. Please read the COVID-19 vaccina advice and recommendations for 2024. The advice includes:
    • individuals aged 75 years and older are recommended to have a COVID-19 vaccine every 6 months
    • individuals aged 65 - 74 years are recommended to have a COVID-19 vaccine every 12 months but can receive every 6 months.
  • encourage clients to speak to their doctor about having a plan in place for testing and a pre-assessment action plan for antiviral medicines to support timely access
  • ensure business continuity plans are in place to support adequate staffing coverage.

This advice also applies to people working with the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Acute respiratory infection (ARI) safety measures for home care service providers

In-home care service providers should maintain vigilance to prevent the introduction of acute respiratory infections (ARI), including COVID-19, influenza, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) 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, influenza and RSV in the community, vaccination status of both staff and clients, and types of services being provided.

Staff should ask clients about symptoms on arrival. If staff become aware of a client with symptoms, arrangements should be made for COVID-19 testing, or referral to a general practitioner as required.

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

Pre-assessment for testing and antiviral medicines

Providers should encourage clients to meet with their doctor to develop a respiratory virus management plan, which will help to support vaccination, testing and treatment for COVID-19 and influenza.

  • GPs are encouraged to use the Pre-assessment action plan for respiratory infections to establish a plan, ahead of time, for use of COVID-19 and influenza 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 the risk of severe disease and can prevent hospitalisation and death.


Providers should ensure they have business continuity plans in place to support adequate staffing coverage. 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 at least 7 days after their positive test. Providers should follow the relevant ARI Guidance to determine when it is safe for employees to return to work.
  • Been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. See Staff exposed to COVID-19 for further information.
  • Acute respiratory or influenza-like symptoms.

Staff exposed to COVID-19

If the exposure has been in the workplace, managers should refer to Appendix 2 of the relevant 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 the workplace, staff should refer to Advice for people exposed to COVID-19. Providers are encouraged to determine their own advice for when it is safe for employees to return to work.

Managers should refer to Acute respiratory infection advice for staff in high-risk community and/or private settings to support their decision making.

Testing for COVID-19

It is encouraged that providers 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.

Mask wearing

Masks should be worn by staff when there are moderate or high levels of respiratory viruses circulating in the community as indicated by the NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report.

Please remember that masks can be removed for staff:

  • if wearing a mask creates a risk to health and safety
  • where clear enunciation or visibility of the mouth is essential
  • if they are working alone in an indoor area.

Staff removing a mask for one of the above reasons can decrease the risk of transmission by physically distancing from others, if appropriate.

Vaccination for staff and clients

For the best protection against severe COVID-19 and influenza, it is strongly encouraged that staff and clients are up to date with all recommended vaccinations, including COVID-19 and influenza. The COVID-19 vaccine can be given on the same day as influenza vaccine. For information on recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses see the latest advice and ATAGI's advice on influenza vaccines.

An RSV vaccine is available to adults 60 years and above. People must pay for this vaccine. Clients who are 60 years and above can talk to their GP about the benefits, eligibility and cost of the RSV vaccine. Please see the ATAGI advice for the RSV vaccine for more information.

Providers should review staff COVID-19 vaccination rates and facilitate access to vaccination for those who are due.

Aged care providers must comply with the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care's mandatory flu vaccination program, which includes:

  • offering free flu vaccinations to all aged care staff and keeping records of their vaccination
  • demonstrating how flu vaccinations have been promoted and how aged care staff and volunteers have been informed about the benefits of vaccination
  • demonstrating the steps taken to encourage aged care staff and volunteers to get vaccinated.

For further information, visit Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care - Advice for residential aged care workers and Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care - Responsibilities of residential aged care providers.

Day activity programs

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

In arranging activities, day program providers should:

Further information

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care 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 have questions 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 20 May 2024
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW