Providers told to prepare for Covid outbreak

Ongoing vigilance is key to managing flare-ups in facilities, says regulatory commissioner.

The number of cases of Covid in residential aged care homes has more than doubled during the course of six weeks.

Government statistics show that – as of 11 April – there were 1,150 cases in 209 facilities. The latest figures show that – as of 16 May – there were 3,110 cases across 378 sites.

Janet Anderson

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson reminded providers to be primed for a possible coronavirus surge during winter.

“As we enter the colder months and with increasing cases of Covid-19 transmission in the community, aged care providers must be prepared for a potential outbreak,” she said. “Old age is the biggest risk to becoming seriously ill with Covid-19. People living in residential aged care are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 infections.”

Ms Anderson told AAA it was important that providers ensured their staff were keeping up-to-date with their vaccinations to protect those that they care for. “Thorough preparation and ongoing vigilance is also key to managing the risks that Covid-19 presents in aged care settings,” she added. “A slow or ineffective response to an outbreak places older people and staff at increased risk of harm, and that is unacceptable.”

Mark Butler

Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler also warned of a Covid outbreak, coupled with a flare-up of influenza. Speaking during a radio interview on Thursday, Mr Butler said the country was “seeing another wave start … I think the challenge for this wave is that, first of all, it’s heading into winter. So, you know, people are a little bit more susceptible for two respiratory illnesses, particularly if you’re older. It’s also coinciding with an increase in flu. We’re going to be battling flu and this latest Covid wave at the same time.”

The spike in cases was, said Mr Butler, “a reminder of the importance of taking protection – particularly if you’re older.”

The increase in Covid activity is, say experts, mostly due to new subvariants within the latest mutation of the virus.

Providers are encouraged to access Covid-related resources, clinical alerts and links to relevant information and education available at the regulatory commission’s website.

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on LinkedInX (Twitter) and Facebook, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to our premium content or AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: aged care quality and safety commission, covid, Janet Anderson, mark butler,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *