22 December 2021
Aged care providers have no excuse if they are unprepared for a COVID-19 outbreak. They are inviting the regulator to take action.
This is the clear message from Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson as 2021 draws to a close with rising rates of COVID-19 community transmission being seen in many parts of the country.
The Commissioner has written to all aged care providers to remind them of their obligations to manage risks appropriately and act promptly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the consumers in their care.
“Every single aged care provider across Australia must now have a comprehensive, up to date and fully rehearsed outbreak management plan,” Ms Anderson said.
“Services that cope best with an outbreak are not only well-prepared with a robust plan but are also ready to activate their plan immediately, making good decisions from the outset and solving problems confidently as they arise. Strong leadership is key.”
Support is available for services with an outbreak. Providers must contact their state or territory public health unit immediately to report a positive COVID-19 test result received by either a staff member or consumer. Providers should also contact the Australian Government Department of Health at: agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au. This prompt action will activate critical external assistance for providers.
“Services that are caught unprepared for an outbreak may be subject to regulatory action. A slow or ineffective response to an outbreak by a provider places both consumers and staff at increased risk of harm, and that is unacceptable.”
The very high vaccination coverage in residential aged care and home care services offers a vital layer of protection but is no guarantee that COVID-19 will leave aged care consumers and staff unaffected. The increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant means that COVID-19 may find its way into a number of aged care services in coming weeks and months. Every provider must be alert and ready.
“Any provider who hasn’t already put considerable time and effort into outbreak management planning is running very late and out of time. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The people you will be letting down are senior Australians and those who care for them – and they deserve better,” Ms Anderson said.
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