As of 3 June 2022

With high levels of COVID-19 in the community, it is important that home care service providers maintain a high degree of vigilance and continue to take precautionary actions such as regular screening of staff, mask wearing and hand hygiene.

In-home and community aged care and disability care workers are required to have 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Time limitations apply. There are two exemptions related to booster vaccinations (see below).

​An extension has been made to the vaccination exemption allowing a person to continue working without the third dose. The exemption has been extended from 1 June to be repealed on 29 June 2022.

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

Household and close contacts should not attend vulnerable clients unless a specific COVID return to work plan is in place.

Positive rapid antigen test results

  • From 12 January 2022, a person must register their positive rapid antigen test result through the Service NSW portal.
  • Where a client is unable to independently complete the information on the Service NSW portal, a provider should register the result on behalf of the client. This can be done by selecting the "continue as guest" option on the Service NSW portal.

Staff screening requirements

Staff who have not yet had 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine should have regular RAT testing (for example twice per week for a full time staff member). Staff who have had 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine do not need to have regular RAT testing.

PCR Tests should not be used for asymptomatic surveillance of staff or clients where there has been no exposure.

If a staff member has had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19, managers should refer to the Appendix 2 of the ARI Guidance for information on how to assess the level of risk and testing regimes supporting staff returning to work and assisting in maintaining the continuity of care.

Home care and community aged care and disability care service providers are responsible to ensure that staff must not provide services if they:

  • have COVID-19 symptoms
  • are waiting for a COVID-19 test result
  • have been overseas in the previous 14 days, unless they are fully vaccinated, have a negative rapid antigen test within 24 hours of arrival and their manager has agreed to risk mitigating measures.
  • managers should refer to the Appendix 2 of the ARI Guidance for information on how to assess the level of risk and testing regimes supporting staff returning to work and assisting in maintaining the continuity of care.

Staff who are a household or close contact must comply with the NSW Health Household and Close Contact Guideline and must not provide services for at least 7 days after the last person in their household had a positive COVID-19 test. After 7 days, the employer must approve return to work, undertake a risk assessment and may ask the staff to take additional precautions to decrease the risk of transmission.

If a staff member is critical to service delivery and their absence would compromise delivery of care, please discuss with the local Public Health Unit whether a return to within 7 days maybe allowed with additional risk mitigating measures. People who have recovered from COVID-19 are able to continue to work if they come in contact with COVID-19 in the 12 weeks after recovery and remain asymptomatic.

A person must not provide a home care service unless:

  • they are able to provide evidence of having received at least 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or if the person has received 2 doses of a COVID-19 and it is not after the later of:
    • 12 April 2022 or
    • 6 weeks from the due date for the persons 3rd dose (due date is 13 weeks after the persons second dose)
  • Note - New workers can commence employment with 2 doses however, they must receive their third dose within 6 weeks of their due date to continue working.

There are two exemptions to the Public Health (COVID-19 Care Services) Order 2022 relating to the third dose of a COVID-19 vaccination:

  1. The first exemption was made to allow a person who has had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to continue working without the third dose, only if they have been assessed as being essential to the operation of a residential aged care facility (RACF) or the provision of disability or aged care services by the operator of the RACF or the responsible person for the disability or in-home and community aged care service. See further information on Public Health Orders and Exemptions.

    This exemption has been extended from expiring on June 1. Please note that employees who have not made reasonable steps to get vaccinated are not able to work under this exemption.
  2. The second exemption applies to people entering a RACF to provide a service, in-home and aged care service workers and disability workers and exempts the person from the requirement to have a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if:
    • the person has had 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and
    • was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 4 months, and
    • provides evidence of their diagnosis to the occupier of the RACF or their employer. Evidence of diagnosis can be either proof of registration with Service NSW of a positive rapid antigen test result or evidence of a positive COVID-19 PCR result.

The exemption also allows the employer to continue to allow the person to provide work.

This does not permanently exempt the person from the requirement to have a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A person who does not meet the conditions in the exemption must continue to comply with the direction in the Public Health (COVID-19 Care Services) Order 2022.

On very rare occasions, there may be a medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination. A COVID-19 medical contraindication certificate is required in this circumstance.

COVID-19 safety measures for home care service providers

Minimise staff working across multiple settings (such as in-home and residential care). Where ceasing staff movement across settings is not practical, additional measures should be put in place, such as maintaining records of staff and work locations and increasing use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

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

Ensure staff actively ask clients about symptoms on arrival. If staff become aware of a client with symptoms, that client should be isolated from others and arrangements made for COVID-19 testing.

Where a client has not been vaccinated only essential services should be performed in the home wearing appropriate PPE.

Day activity programs

Day activity programs are permitted to operate

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 safe plans in place.

Staff and participants should not attend if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19.

Managers should refer to the Appendix 2 of the ARI Guidance for further information on when staff can be permitted to work.

Where participants are not fully vaccinated, providers are encouraged to continue to consider providing flexible options including online service delivery, individual activities and consider the appropriateness of larger group interactions given the higher risk of severe illness in older people.

Mask wearing

  • It is strongly recommended that both the home care worker and the resident wear a surgical mask during the provision of the service.
  • A home care worker or resident may remove their mask:
    • while communicating with a 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 their mouth is essential
  • Anyone removing a mask for one of these reasons should maintain 1.5m distance from others wherever possible.
  • There are currently mandatory face mask rules in some settings. If a home care worker is taking a resident out of the home setting it is important to follow the rules and understand how to use a face mask.

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: Friday 3 June 2022
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW