As of 11 January 2022

In-home and community aged care workers must be fully vaccinated. Staff should get a booster dose as soon as they are eligible for one.

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

Staff screening requirements

If a staff member has had a high risk exposure to COVID-19, return to work must be risk managed, e.g. with daily RAT screening, if less than 14 days have elapsed. Managers should refer to the  Commonwealth Permissions and Restrictions Framework for Workers in Residential Aged Care Facilities – Interim Guidance  and the Managing Aged Care and Disability Worker Exposures for further information on when staff can be permitted to work, including to ensure service continuity

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

  • are unable to provide evidence of having received a COVID-19 vaccine as per the Public Health (COVID-19 Care Services) Order (No 3) 2021. On rare occasions, there may be a medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination. A COVID-19 medical contraindication certificate is required in this circumstance,
  • 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, it has been at least 7 days after arrival, and they have received a negative rapid antigen test taken 6 days or later after their arrival.
  • are a staff member living with a person who has had a high risk exposure to COVID-19, unless the facility has assessed that the staff member is essential and has put in place measures to minimise risk.

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 but must align with the directions in the Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order 2021

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

  • encouraging all residents, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated
  • ensuring everyone wears a mask when indoors, unless they are exempted
  • 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 Aged Care and Disability Risk Matrix for further information on when staff can be permitted to work

Where participants are not fully vaccinated, providers are encouraged to continue to provide flexible options including online service delivery, individual activities and avoid group interactions unless the participants are from the same household.

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 your 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.
  • If a person cannot wear a face mask because of a disability, physical or mental health illness or condition, they must carry either
    • a medical certificate or letter signed by a registered health practitioner (such as a doctor) or a registered NDIS provider or
    • a statutory declaration.

Further information

Current as at: Tuesday 11 January 2022
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW