As of 15 April 2021

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Visiting an RACF

Exceptional circumstances for visiting an RACF

  • In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible for otherwise excluded visitors to be allowed entry into the facility:
      • on compassionate grounds (for example, imminent death of a loved one)
      • where they are providing essential care.
  • Similar provisions exist for staff members, if their exclusion will result in significant compromise to resident care. Please contact your local Public Health Unit if you require advice as to how to appropriately manage these visits or assess the risks posed by staff or visitors.
  • An essential care purpose can include people visiting their loved ones who are receiving end-of-life care, or for visiting a resident with a serious mental illness (including advanced dementia), where the resident requires a trusted carer to support and maintain social and emotional wellbeing.
  • An essential care person is someone who has frequently and regularly visited a resident to provide aspects of care and companionship to that person. An essential care person is not a casual visitor, or visitor not providing an aspect of care, or visitor who the resident does not want to have assisting with their care.
  • A decision to admit otherwise excluded visitors must be based on an assessment of the risk posed by the visitor, and the ability of the facility to manage their visit. Added precautions, including being escorted directly to and from the room of the resident, and remaining within the room during the visit, would need to be in place.
  • Visitors and staff with symptoms, or who have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should not be admitted.

Residents attending family gatherings or excursions

For residents leaving the facility for an individual outing, family gathering or group excursion, ensure that:

  • residents are guided about COVID-safe behaviours, including practicing physical distancing (1.5m) and hand hygiene,
  • the event complies with the current Gathering Restrictions Public Health Order,
  • no one at the event:
    • has, in the past 14 days, been to any NSW, Interstate or New Zealand locations at the dates and times listed in the latest COVID-19 case locations web page
    • lives in the NSW areas of increased testing
    • has been a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days
    • lives in a household with a person who is currently self-isolating
    • is waiting for a COVID-19 test result.

Accepting new permanent or respite residents, and returning residents discharged from hospital

  • Residential aged care facilities should undertake their own screening and risk assessment of new and returning residents for COVID-19. Depending on the risk assessment, facilities may implement additional infection prevention and control measures on admission.
  • Admission of new residents from the community, either permanent or respite, can be accepted if the person has not been to any areas where testing or monitoring of symptoms is advised, has had no contact with anyone with confirmed, suspected or probable COVID-19, is not awaiting a COVID-19 test result, and does not have any symptoms of COVID-19. COVID-19 testing is not mandatory for new or returning residents unless they have symptoms.
  • When a resident has been admitted to hospital and is ready for discharge back to the residential aged care facility, the hospital treating team will medically screen and risk assess the resident for COVID-19 prior to discharge. The receiving facility should undertake their own screening process when the resident is returned. Local Health District aged care outreach teams / specialised staff should be engaged as early as possible to assist with discharge planning if required.

Additional COVID-19 measures for staff and facilities

  • Minimise staff working across different care facilities. Where ceasing staff movement across facilities is not practical, additional measures should be put in place, such as maintaining records of staff and work locations.
  • Keep your outbreak preparedness plan up to date. Include provisions in your plan to ensure that your facility:
      • has sufficient stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) held on site. This should include PPE for business-as-usual service delivery as well as to respond quickly to elevated risk from a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case
      • has a designated infection control lead
      • staff have regular infection control training.

Additional resources

Up to date information about COVID-19 can be found at:

Go back to Advice to residential aged care facilities

Current as at: Thursday 15 April 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW