What is a COVID-19 outbreak?
An outbreak has been defined by the Commonwealth Department of Health as either:
Two or more residents of a residential care facility who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 via RAT or PCR test within five days and have been onsite at the residential aged care facility at any time during their infectious period, or
Five or more employees, visitors and/or resident of the residential aged care facility diagnosed with COVID-19 through RAT or PCR test within the past seven days who worked/visited during their infectious period.
What happens when an employee, visitor or resident tests positive in my loved one’s Home?
If there is a positive COVID-19 case in one of our Homes, we immediately review the level and type of exposure, contact the Public Health Unit (PHU) and Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) and will follow their advice and guidance closely to manage the outbreak. They will provide additional support and guidance for the Home as required.
Dependent on the nature of the exposure, the PHU and DH may advise that some wings in the Home may require the implementation of the Outbreak Management Plan (OMP) while in other instances the OMP will be implemented across the entire Home.
Residents may be required to stay in their rooms and our employees will be wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times.
How do I know if my loved one is ok?
We know this is a difficult time for our community. Our teams monitor residents’ physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing to ensure they are well supported. This includes regular health screening by our clinical teams and emotional support from our Lifestyle team.
If there is any change to a residents’ health status, our clinical team will be in contact to keep you informed.
Are employees also monitored during an outbreak?
Yes, our employees are asked a range of screening questions prior to their shift to ensure they are safe to come to work.
Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) may also be undertaken by employees before their shift. They also take part in PCR testing at the Home on the advice of their local Public Health Unit.
What happens if an employee is symptomatic when they attend work?
All employees are screened prior to entering our Homes and if symptomatic they are not permitted to enter and required go and get tested for COVID-19.
How can I visit my loved one if they are in an outbreak Home?
There are some visitation restrictions in place to help keep our residents, employees and visitors safe.
We are only able to welcome essential visitors to the Home during an outbreak. Essential visitors are any of the following:
- Partner in care – a person who has a close and continuing relationship with the care recipient and provides aspects of regular routine care and companionship
- Named visitor – if a resident does not have a partner in care, they may nominate one person to be a named visitor
- Visitor at end of life – visits to residents at or approaching the end of life should be facilitated for anyone and not be time limited.
Please call your Home’s General Manager if any of the above applies to you to arrange visiting your loved one.
Please note that as well as the type of visit, there may be some restriction on the number of visitors permitted to enter the Home during an outbreak.
When visiting as an essential visitor, you will be required to wear the same level of PPE that our employees are wearing. All PPE will be provided for you to wear in the Home and is to ensure our Home remains a safe place for residents and employees.
We ask that all visits are to occur in resident rooms or outdoor areas. Please also limit your physical interactions with the resident you have come to visit to help reduce the risk of infection throughout the Home.
All visitors are required to report to reception during business hours for screening and to record your details before entering the Home. We encourage visits during the hours that reception is open to facilitate this screening and record keeping.
What alternative measures are in place to connect with my loved one?
We know it’s hard to be away from your loved ones. Our dedicated Lifestyle team is available to facilitate Facetime and phone calls with families. Please call the Home to arrange a call with your loved one.
How will I stay informed about what is happening?
We are here to support you and keep you informed if your loved one is in an outbreak Home. Please continue to visit our website for the most up to date information. We will also send all primary and secondary contacts text messages regularly.
Can I speak to someone?
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Home’s General Manager. You can also call our dedicated Advice Team on 1300 998 100.
Where can I access support and resources?
There is a range of support options available for families, employees and residents.
Our Employee Assistance Program (Access EAP) is available to support our employees with confidential counselling. To arrange counselling, please contact AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. You can also download your AccessMyEAP app to access a range of benefits to support your wellbeing.
Older Person’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) has a range of resources available to support you, please visit their website for more information. OPAN offers a free, confidential and independent service to our residents and families. You can contact OPAN on 1800 700 600 seven days a week.
The Department of Health also has a range of COVID-19 aged care grief and trauma support for those living, working and caring in the aged care sector, who have been impacted by COVID-19. Visit their website for more information – COVID-19 aged care grief and trauma support services
My loved one’s Home isn’t in outbreak. What infection prevention and control measures do you have in place in your Homes to help ensure the Home stays safe?
Our priority is for the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents and our people working in our Residential Aged Care Homes. Regis has well established infection prevention and control measures in place to help make our Homes the safest possible place for our residents and employees. This includes:
- In line with the Australian Government’s mandate, all our employees working in residential aged care who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine have had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.
- We have also rolled out a COVID-19 booster program for residents and employees across all of our Homes
- Our employees also wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while working in our Homes. This may include a face mask, N95 face mask, face shield dependent on community transmission, or full PPE if an outbreak occurs.
- We have PPE in stock to keep our residents and employees safe.
- We will shortly have Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) available in our Homes for our employees to complete prior to their shifts. RATs are also available for our visitors.
- In the event of an outbreak, Regis will communicate with families and employees regularly, and keep you updated on the steps in place to manage the outbreak.
- Our COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Committee plans and monitors the situation as it evolves. The committee is led by Melissa McDonald, Executive General Manager, Clinical and Care Practice.
- We work closely with representatives from the State and Federal Governments including the DoH and PHUs across the country who are supporting us.
What can I do to ensure I am following infection prevention measures when visiting my loved ones?
Hand-washing, cough etiquette, maintaining social distancing and staying away from others remain important to reduce the risk of passing on illnesses like COVID-19, influenza and other respiratory viruses.
Please ensure you follow infection prevention and control measures while in the Home and always sign using our electronic sign in process (Zipline).
My loved one isn’t in an outbreak Home. What are the current visitation restrictions?
For current guidance on visitation to our Homes, please visit our website for the latest information.
Are the Public Health Directions different across each state or territory?
All states and territories have issued public health directions for aged care providers. For more information, visit the Department of Health’s website to check with your local state or territory health department.
What role does the Local Public Health Unit have in an outbreak?
PHUs were established to support all aged care providers in responding to the pandemic and other diseases and health issues. They are state government-based organisations who have overarching authority on what actions we are required to follow in the event of an outbreak.
When there is an outbreak, our Pandemic Planning Committee meet with the local PHU regularly for support, guidance and direction during an outbreak.
How long will the Outbreak Management Plan remain in place?
We work closely with the DoH and PHU during an outbreak, including exposure, contact tracing, testing, results and stand down of the outbreak. The PHU guide us on next steps of the Outbreak Management Plan and direct us when it is safe to close the outbreak. Generally, this is likely to happen when all results in the Home return as negative for COVID-19. In some instances, we see different wings closing or opening at different times depending on when it is safe to do so. We will always keep our community updated on each step of the OMP.