Letter to approved providers – Visitor access in a COVID-normal world
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aged care sector in 2020 have been significant. The risk of transmission of COVID-19 has necessitated restrictions on visitors accessing residential aged care services. As we transition into the 'COVID-19 normal world', the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has updated its visitor restrictions page to provide information and resources for Approved Providers, aged care residents, and their families to safely manage visitor access. Regular updates will be made to the material, so please review regularly.
Visitor access in a COVID-normal world
On Monday 7 December 2020 the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Ms. Janet Anderson, PSM, sent a letter to all registered providers that outlined the meaning of the COVID-normal world, the importance of visitors to the health and well-being of aged care residents, and the Commission’s expectations that all approved providers safely manage visitors into residential aged care facilities.
Visitor access campaign
The Commission is delivering a campaign of activities to support the transition of the aged care sector into a COVID-normal operating environment. This campaign will provide resources and guidance for aged care consumers, their families, and approved providers to safely manage visitor access. It will also feature targeted regulatory activities to ensure that the Commission maintains appropriate regulatory oversight of the aged care sector.
The main activities of the campaign are:
- residential service visitor access survey
- visitor access case studies
- focused regulatory activities
- best practice resources.
Visitor access survey
The Commission conducted a residential service visitor access survey between 16 December 2020 and 19 January 2021. The survey is a vital element of our visitor access campaign as it revealed a number of areas that services should focus on to improve outcomes for residents, their families/representatives and staff in a COVID-normal world. The full survey report presents a summary of the findings, the detailed results of each survey question and key messages for providers.
Visitor access and restrictions
In the COVID normal world, it is expected that safely managed visitor access will be normal practice, where there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, it may be necessary to apply restrictions to visitors if the risk of COVID-19 transmission increases. The Visitation Guidelines for Residential Aged Care Facilities establishes a three-tiered escalation model, where the levels of visitor access and visitor restrictions are determined by the current level of community transmission. Below are links to information and resources that will assist in managing visitor access and the application of restrictions on visitors.
For more information, read our:
- information and resources for the safe management of visitor access page
- supporting safe, quality care for aged care consumers during visitor restrictions page
- fact sheet about activities for children and their elderly relatives when connecting over the phone or video call.