As of 20 May 2022
With high levels of COVID-19 and influenza in the community, it is important that residential aged care facilities (RACF) maintain a high degree of vigilance and continue to take precautionary actions such as regular screening of staff and visitors for symptoms and using rapid antigen tests, mask wearing and hand hygiene. Residents should be offered the COVID-19 winter booster and the influenza vaccine as a priority.
It is recommended that each visitor shows evidence of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test result taken within 24 hours before entry. Visitors providing essential care and entering on a regular basis can, with the agreement of the RACF, do less frequent testing but the minimum interval recommended is twice weekly.
Residents may leave the facility and attend family gatherings or other events but must abide by the current
Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order 2022.
It is recommended that residents who leave the facility to attend a family gathering or event be tested using a RAT on Day 2 after their return and again on Day 6. If they develop any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 they should immediately be isolated and have a RAT and PCR test.
Testing for COVID-19 is not recommended for residents that have recovered from COVID-19 within the previous 12 weeks.
Residents should get a COVID-19 booster vaccine dose as soon as they are eligible for one.
Residents should not leave the facility if they have
COVID-19 symptoms until they have had a RAT or PCR test and have received a negative result.
Facilities must ensure that residents are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment, infection control and mask wearing advice if they leave the facility. See the latest
face mask rules.
Staff, including students and contractors should not enter a RACF if they have acute respiratory symptoms as detailed in Table 1 of the
Acute Respiratory Infection Guidance
It is recommended that RACF staff undergo a COVID-19 RAT prior to commencement of each shift. At a minimum, testing should occur three times per week. The more frequently a COVID-19 rapid antigen test is undertaken the more effective is the process is to identify cases.
All staff, health practitioners and students entering a RACF must have 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine unless the person has received 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and it is not after the later of the following
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 2 exemptions to the
Public Health (COVID-19 Care Services) Order 2022 relating to the 3rd dose of a COVID-19 vaccination:
This exemption is also subject to the condition that the worker take reasonable steps to get vaccinated as soon as practical. The exemption will be repealed on 1 June 2022.
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 3rd dose of a COVID vaccine. A person who does not meet the conditions in the exemption instrument 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.
All staff must wear a surgical mask while in the facility. For reasons when masks can be removed please see
Additional Advice – mask wearing.
Managers should refer to Appendix 2 in the
Acute Respiratory Infections Guidance to support assessment of exposure of workers, residents and visitors in Residential Aged Care Facilities for information on assessing level of risk and when staff can be permitted to work including to ensure service continuity. This guidance should be used by all private residential aged care facilities and community aged care providers to support decision making for work restrictions or permission where there has been staff exposure to COVID-19.
Staff who are a household or close contact must comply with the
NSW Health Household and Close Contact Guideline and must not enter a RACF 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 transition. This applies to all workers entering a RACF to provide a service e.g. pathology collectors, therapists and other contractors. This does not apply to emergency services.
If a staff member is critical to service delivery and their absence would compromise delivery of care to residents, please discuss with the local Public Health Unit whether a return to within 7 days maybe allowed with additional risk mitigating measures.
All NSW Health operated aged care services should continue to use the
NSW Health - Health Care Worker COVID-19 Exposure Risk Assessment Matrix. This includes Multi-Purpose Services (MPSs), state government residential aged care facilities (SGRACFs), Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) services and Transitional Aged Care Services (TACP).
Please refer to the
NSW Government website for further information about the current rules and restrictions in NSW.
In recognition of the current Omicron outbreak and demand on pathology testing, the Protocol for RAT and PCR testing in residential aged care has been established to ensure appropriate access to pathology services and ensure that residential aged care facilities (RACFs) are able to access the support and resources required. This protocol should be used as the minimum testing requirements. Managers should refer to Appendix 2 in the Acute Respiratory Infection Guidance to support risk assessment and testing of workers, residents and visitors post exposure to COVID—19.