COVID-19 and Residential Aged Care

COVID-19 and Aged Care

Older people are more at risk of  contracting COVID-19 and experiencing serious illness. WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) has a key role in supporting Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) in WA and the general practitioners who in-reach to these facilities in their preparedness and response to a COVID-19 outbreak. 

Other State and Australian Government health authorities have responsibility for supporting the RACF sector in the context of COVID-19 and it is important that WAPHA works with these agencies to identify where there is duplication, gaps and fragmentation while being clear on the boundaries of WAPHA’s scope.

WAPHA also has a significant Primary Health Network (PHN) Aged Care program to deliver and we will ensure alignment of our COVID-19 aged care response with the priorities of the PHN Aged Care program.

WAPHA’s Role in Aged Care

  • Improve access to general practice care for RACF residents;
  • Improve the connection between GPs and RACFs, and
  • Assist vaccination efforts for residents.

WAPHA’s role in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in aged care is limited to facilitating communication between RACFs, vaccination providers, GPs, hospitals and other local health providers, and State and Australian Government health authorities.

Key Focus Areas

Building relationships and networks

  • Strategic meetings with Australian Government Department of Health, WA Department of Health, Health Service Providers, Residential Aged Care Providers, Aged Care Peak bodies, RACGP WA and GPs.
  • WAPHA has an important role in engagement with local aged care stakeholders, providing insight to local and regional COVID-19 planning and response.

Clinical leadership and advice

  • In partnership with the WA Department of Health, Geriatricians and GPs, WAPHA has delivered a RACF Aged Care COVID-19 HealthPathway.
  • WAPHA will deliver targeted webinars to provide important updates and information to GPs, Nurse Practitioners and Registered Nurses who in-reach to RACFs.
  • WAPHA has commissioned Silver Chain, WA Medical Deputising Services and Dial a Doctor to deliver free clinical assessment and management services for COVID-19 positive people living in residential aged care or licenced private psychiatric hostels who are at risk of hospitalisation and are unable to access a GP. 

COVID-19 Aged Care resources

  • COVID 19 pathway for Residential Aged Care Facilities
  • Development and maintenance of advice / tip sheets to help GPs and RACFs plan for COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • Development of a communications and engagement strategy to support targeted delivery of information, resources and support to WA GPs working in RACFs.
  • Vaccine roll-out updates, information and supporting resources.

WAPHA’s role involves facilitating communications between:

  • RACFs;
  • The Australian government vaccination providers;
  • GPs and other local healthcare providers; and
  • State and Australian Government health authorities.

COVID Positive Home Visiting and Telehealth service for residential aged care residents

(Please note the COVID Positive Home Visiting Service will end on 31 December 2022.)

The COVID Positve Home Visiting and Telehealth service is now accepting GP referrals to Silver Chain, WA Deputising Medical Services and Dial-a-Doctor to deliver clinical assessment and management of COVID-19 for people living in residential aged care and licensed private psychiatric hostels in the following circumstances:

  • A resident who is isolating due to COVID-19 is at risk of potential hospitalisation and an assessment/intervention is required to determine if that is necessary or to avoid a hospital admission; and 
  • Their usual GP dis not available to offer a home visit or telehealth consult at the relevant time. 

Delivered face-to-face or via telehealth, at no cost to the patient, the COVID Positive Home Visiting and Telehealth service is not intended for routine monitoring and care, but rather to provide one-off or exceptional circumstance visits that will help avoid unnecessary escalation of COVID-19 positive patients to hospital. 

A referral to this service needs to be made by the resident’s usual GP. If the usual GP is uncontactable, the facility can make the referral.

Download  the information pack for residential aged care for more information on referral pathways and eligibility criteria.

It’s time to prepare for COVID-19 cases by talking to your visiting GP

In the event of an outbreak of COVID-19, residential aged care facilities may require the assistance of visiting GPs. 

WA Primary Health Alliance has produced a handy conversation guide with six questions that can be discussed with your GP during their next visit.  

Download the guide

Booster dose rollout

WA Primary Health Alliance is assisting with the booster dose rollout within residential aged care facilities in WA.

All sites have now been contacted by their vaccine administration service provider and offered a booster schedule.

In-reach booster clinics

RACFs are encouraged to reach out to WA Primary Health Alliance for assistance with engaging with GPs and pharmacies to provide in-reach COVID-19 vaccinations for new or existing residents.

The COVID-19 vaccination practice incentives program for in-reach vaccination payments has been extended to 31 December 2022.

Alternative vaccination options

Residents who can travel may be able to attend an alternative clinic.

Vaccines can be booked using the Vaccine Clinic Finder or at State-run community COVID-19 vaccination clinics using VaccinateWA.

COVID-19 Support Portal reporting

RACFs should now be reporting resident, worker or visitor COVID-19 cases at their service via the new, online COVID-19 Support Portal accessed through the My Aged Care provider portal.

The Australian Government Department of Health has issued a factsheet and quick reference guide on this process.

Reporting workforce COVID-19 vaccination status

It is a requirement for residential, and in-home and community aged care providers, to report on staff COVID-19 vaccinations through the My Aged Care provider portal each Tuesday.

The Australian Government Department of Health has guidance for residential aged care providers on reporting resident and workforce COVID-19 vaccinations

Supporting ongoing vaccination of residents

The Australian Department of Health has provided a new resident entrance protocol flowchart to check if new residents have been vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

The guide recommends facilities ask new residents if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

If they haven’t, staff can encourage the resident to book an appointment with their general practitioner to discuss COVID-19 vaccine.

These factsheets can help residents to inform their decision:

All people aged over 60 can receive the Comirnaty (Pfizer), Spikevax (Moderna) and Nuvaxovid (Novavax) vaccines from a GP or pharmacist taking part in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

Use the  Vaccine Clinic Finder to find your nearest COVID-19 vaccine booking. 

    Immunisation updates and useful links
    Useful links for providers
    Resources for families and carers
    • If residents or family would like more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, they can phone the national helpline: 1800 020 080.
    • There is information about the COVID-19 vaccines available on the Health Direct website.
    Information for GPs working in RACFs

    While the Australian Government Department of Health has contributed to the funding of this website, the information on this website does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government and is not advice that is provided, or information that is endorsed, by the Australian Government. The Australian Government is not responsible in negligence or otherwise for any injury, loss or damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.