As of 24 July 2021

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Visiting an RACF

Service NSW QR codes

From 12 July 2021 under the Public Health (COVID-19 Temporary Movement and Gathering Restrictions) Amendment (No 2) Order 2021 all staff (including contractors but excluding people entering the premises in response to an emergency) and visitors to residential aged care facilities will need to check-in using the Service NSW QR code app.

In addition RACFs must continue to screen people entering the facility following the Chief Health Officer advice.

Facilities using a commercial app that combines check-in and screening can continue to use the commercial app for screening. However, an additional check-in must be done with the Service NSW QR app. 

Facilities can find information on setting up a Service NSW QR code here. The Service NSW Business Concierge team can be contacted on 13 77 88 for additional assistance.

 

Mandatory mask wearing

  • Under the Public Health (COVID-19 Temporary Movement and Gathering Restrictions) Order 2021 masks are mandatory for everyone in the Greater Sydney area (including Nepean Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour) while in an indoor location (other than a person's home). This includes waiting for or using public transport.
  • A staff member or visitor may remove their mask:
      • while communicating with another 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
      • when the removal of a face mask is necessary for the provision of a good or service.
  • Anyone removing a mask for one of these reasons should maintain 1.5m distance from others wherever possible.

Exceptional and special circumstances for visiting an RACF - including influenza vaccination

In 2020, very little influenza circulated in NSW, as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations. That few people were exposed to influenza means that fewer people than usual will likely have immunity in the coming year, making vaccination even more important for protecting people from influenza illness.

From 1 June to 30 September 2021, all visitors aged 6 months and over, and staff entering a residential aged care facility should be required to provide evidence that they received a dose of the 2021 influenza vaccination. Where the person has a medical certificate indicating a contraindication to influenza vaccination or there are other special circumstances, visits may be permitted provided additional precautions are applied. Please read Residential care facilities and influenza advice.

Priority should be given to COVID-19 vaccination. Staff and visitors are permitted to enter a facility if their influenza vaccine is delayed due to receiving COVID vaccinations, please refer to the medical certificate or provide documentation showing COVID vaccination dates.

For more information see How to get an an immunisation history statement.

  • In exceptional or special circumstances, it may be possible for otherwise excluded visitors to be allowed entry into the facility:
    • where they are providing essential care, including responding to an emergency (e.g. NSW Ambulance staff or maintenance staff)
    • on compassionate grounds (for example, imminent death of a loved one).
  • 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 (including if they do not have an up to date influenza vaccine) 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, wearing a mask and remaining within the room during the visit, would need to be in place. A decision whether to admit an excluded visitor should be based on a risk assessment by the facility.
  • When restrictions are in place visits should occur:

      • in the resident's room  
      • outside (weather permitting); limit the number of residents depending on the size of the outdoor area
      •  designated visitor room at the front of the facility where the resident and their visitors can keep apart from other residents; this room must be cleaned after each visit.
  • Visitors and staff with symptoms, or who have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should not be admitted.
  • When restrictions are in place visits should occur:

      • in the resident's room 
      • outside (weather permitting); limit the number of residents depending on the size of the outdoor area designated visitor room at the front of the facility where the resident and their visitors can keep apart from other residents; this room must be cleaned after each visit.

Residents attending family gatherings or excursions

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

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. Where possible fully vaccinated staff should be used.
  • 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

Visit Advice to residential aged care facilities.


Current as at: Saturday 24 July 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW