As of 6 April 2022

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Visiting an RACF

Visitor access should be in line with the advice in:

Visitor registration

It is strongly recommended that facilities maintain check-in modalities for visitors and staff. Residents are not required to check-in.

See NSW Government website for information on QR codes and check-in modalities.

Mandatory mask wearing

  • Staff and visitors are required to wear masks in high-risk settings including in Aged Care Facilities. See the NSW Government site for latest Face Mask Rules.
  • 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.
  • If a person is required to wear a mask but cannot 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.

New and returning resident to RACF from hospital or Emergency Department

  • NSW Health has a risk management approach to discharging people to RACFs which involves medical and epidemiological screening for COVID-19, and PCR or Rapid Antigen testing if appropriate. This process aims to provide confidence that new and returning residents have been risk assessed for COVID-19 at the time of discharge.
  • When a resident has been admitted to hospital and is ready for discharge, the treating team will medically screen and risk assess the resident for COVID-19, and complete a RAT or rapid PCR test within 24 hours prior to discharge. The treating team will communicate a resident's COVID-19 screening/test result to the RACF with an information sheet and discharge letter that explains the risk assessment.  This is in addition to the usual discharge records.
  • RACFs should screen and risk assess all new and returning residents who are asymptomatic and not suspected of COVID-19. This includes medical screening and assessment of epidemiological risk factors. Depending on the risk assessment, the RACF may implement additional infection prevention and control measures on admission.
  • Processes for admissions/re-admissions to facilities where there is a current outbreak will be in line with relevant and up-to-date national guidelines on infection prevention and control. These include the CDNA National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia and the Infection Control Expert Group COVID-19 infection Prevention and Control for Residential Care Facilities. Decisions should also be based on the advice of the local Outbreak Management Team. Consultation with the resident and their representatives should occur and the wishes of the resident to return should be considered. Carers/families may wish to seek alternative arrangements until the outbreak is over. NSW Health aged care outreach teams / specialised staff should be engaged as soon as possible to assist with discharge planning (where available) in the person's geographic area, and the social work team should be engaged to provide support as needed.
  • Transfer back to the aged care facility for residents who have been hospitalised with COVID-19 should be managed in line with the CDNA guidelines.

Note: Hospital acquired functional decline (HAFD) in older patients can be significant: efforts should be made to prevent decline and to preserve function throughout the resident's hospital admission through multidisciplinary input including allied health consultations (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nutrition and dietetics, speech pathologists), as required. On discharge to the RACF, residents may require multidisciplinary rehabilitation to prevent further deconditioning and decline in independence and function.

Holding an event

Facilities may hold an event like a musical performance such as choirs, carol singers or musicians.  Facilities must ensure that:

  • All performers are fully vaccinated
  • Performers complete a rapid antigen test prior to entry (this could be a home test)
  • Performers are subject to entry and screening requirements, and physical distancing requirements, and these are communicated to them in advance
  • Allow your staff enough time to effectively undertake the entry and screening process
  • Where possible events should be held outside but in the event of an indoor event this should be in a well ventilated space that supports physical distancing  
  • Consider holding several smaller events for safe physical distancing or offer alternative options for residents to participate such as video streaming from a residents' rooms.

Staff with vaccination contraindications

In very rare circumstances staff will have a contraindication to a COVID-19 vaccination. Advice for staff and facilities in these occasions is:

  • if possible, deploy the staff to lower risk environments
  • during an outbreak do not allow the staff member to attend the facility
  • the recommended level of Personal Protective Equipment will be applied equally regardless of vaccination status
  • additional testing can be considered.

Visit Advice to residential aged care facilities.

Current as at: Wednesday 6 April 2022
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW