As of 12 October 2023
Respiratory Surveillance Report provides an indication of transmission of key respiratory viruses (influenza, COVID-19 and RSV) in the community. COVID-19 and influenza vaccines offer the best protection against severe illness from COVID-19 and influenza. Facilities are strongly encouraged to:
This advice includes information for RACFs on the management of:
Many residents are at higher risk of severe illness if they develop COVID-19, influenza or RSV. Providers of residential aged care need to balance their responsibilities to reduce the risk of COVID-19, influenza, RSV and other infections entering RACFs while meeting the physical, social, and emotional needs of residents.
Facilities should have appropriate preparedness plans in place to ensure a timely response to acute respiratory infections (ARIs). Facilities should refer to
Guidance for Aged Care Facilities on the Public Health Management of Acute Respiratory Infections (RACF ARI Guidance) for outbreak management advice.
For further information on antivirals, refer to Guidance on use of antivirals in residential aged care facilities (RACF).
If residents who have tested positive or have symptoms of acute respiratory symptoms need to leave the facility, they should wear a mask and be provided with appropriate mask wearing advice.
Receiving visitors is essential for resident wellbeing and helps to reduce the impact of social isolation. The risk of spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses can be reduced by supporting visits to occur in the safest possible way. Risk mitigation strategies include:
Additional guidance on visiting a RACF is available in the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19.
For all visitors, wearing a mask indoors is encouraged when respiratory viruses are circulating at moderate or high levels in the community, as per the NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report.
Staff, including students, contractors, volunteers, pathology collectors and therapists should not enter an RACF if they have:
It's encouraged that facilities 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.
Ventilation is an important factor in minimising spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections. The key principle is to bring in fresh air to dilute the indoor air; simply re-circulating indoor air (for example, a fan) is not effective. Natural ventilation should be used wherever possible. RACFs can consider seeking professional advice from an occupational hygienist or ventilation engineer. Carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors and HEPA filters may play a role but require users to have a good understanding of how to use them.