The Department of Health has launched a new process for aged care providers to order personal protective supplies and a new learning module for aged care workers.

The Government, which previously said it had a stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) the aged care sector could access, has launched a process for providers to ask for it.

However, providers are still expected to try and source the PPE elsewhere first, and priority will be given to services with confirmed cases of coronavirus or influenza.

Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow told Australian Ageing Agenda on Sunday that PPE “is harder to get and the costs are going up” and that providers were concerned about the increasing need for it (read more here).

Aged care providers requiring PPE must now email agedcarecovidppe@health.gov.au for all requests, the department announced on Tuesday evening.

“All requests will be triaged by the Department of Health with priority given to facilities, programs and workers where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.

“Requests can be made by aged care services and any workers providing support to people receiving aged care support living in the community,” the department said.

Providers have been asked not to approach Primary Health Networks for PPE.

Providers should include the following in the email:

  • the facility, program or service requiring PPE
  • whether there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the facility, program or service
  • types and quantities of PPE required – please note, only masks are available at this stage and other PPE will be provided when available
  • details of other suppliers you have attempted to source PPE stock from.

The above process also applies if the program or service is experiencing an outbreak of influenza.

The department said requests will be triaged to determine priority and once approved will be shared with the National Incident Room to work with relevant state or territory governments to distribute the supplies.

“It is important to remember that if you do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within your facility, program or service you should expect delays in receiving your PPE due to the increase in demand,” the department said.

Emails already sent to the National Stockpile address have been captured in this new dedicated aged care process and do not need to be resent, it said.

New online learning launched

The Department of Health has also released the first module in a new eLearning program for aged care workers on appropriate health management techniques in all aged care settings.

The first module looks at personal safety.

On completion, participants will be able to:

  • describe how you can minimise the risk of developing COVID-19
  • identify what to do if you develop symptoms of COVID-19
  • demonstrate to others how to perform effective hand hygiene
  • explain how to practise cough and sneeze etiquette.

The department said more modules will be released across the week.

Access Module 1: Personal Safety and forthcoming modules here.

Mental health resources

The department has also issued information on the Beyond Blue Support Service.

The free and confidential service available every day to all Australians is online from 3pm to midnight AEST or 24 hours a day by phone on 1300 22 4636.

The Beyond Blue Online Forums have a dedicated ‘Coping with the Coronavirus outbreak’ section for anyone seeking a safe and anonymous place to discuss their mental health and wellbeing.

For practical information and tips, visit Beyond Blue – looking after you mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

Access the online service here.

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