Aged Care - COVID-19

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 within South Australia, the State Coordinator has issued a Direction under the Emergency Management Act 2004 to limit entry into residential aged care facilities (RACF) in South Australia.

The Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 34) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 came into effect at 12.01 am on 20 March 2021.

Staff, volunteers and visitors must not enter or remain on a RACF premises for 14 days if they have travelled from one of the COVID-19 exposure locations listed on the Queensland Health website at the specified dates and times.

See the Cross-border travel page for more information.

COVID-19 Strategy for Residential Aged Care Facilities

The COVID-19 Strategy for Residential Aged Care Facilities (PDF 1MB)is available as a resource document to guide individual Residential Aged Care Facilities in the prevention, preparation, management and recovery stages of responding to COVID-19 situations in South Australia.

To supplement the Strategy, an Integrated Response Framework for the Management of Multiple Outbreaks in Residential Aged Care Facilities in South Australia (PDF 780KB) has now been developed. This document outlines the South Australian integrated response to the risk of multiple concurrent outbreaks of COVID-19 in residential aged care facilities, establishes a blueprint to guide the collaborative roles and responsibilities of accountable responders, and identifies specific challenges and solutions associated with a range of escalating scenarios.

Aged care workforce

Operators of Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF) need to implement a number of changes to the way that employees and contractors at their facilities work.

Visitors

There are no restrictions on the number of care and support visits a resident may receive or the duration of the visit.

  • Processes should be put in place to ensure that residents are able to receive visitors safely. This includes appropriate screening of visitors upon entry to the RACF.
  • Upon entry, all visitors must record their name, telephone number, date and time of the visit and departure, and resident/area of the RACF visited. These requirements are to assist with contact tracing if an identified case of COVID-19 is confirmed.
  • Where possible, visits should be conducted in a resident’s room, outdoors, or in a specific area designated by the RACF, rather than communal areas.
  • Physical distancing of 1.5m should be adhered to wherever possible.
  • A person may enter a RACF for the purpose of participating in a group activity led or supervised by an employee, contractor, student or volunteer of the facility.

Compassionate visits

  • Visits for the purpose of providing end of life support to a resident are permitted and numbers of visitors are not restricted in these circumstances.

Requesting an exemption in exceptional circumstances

SA Health authorised officers are able to provide exemptions to the Directions if they believe exceptional circumstances exist. All requests for exemptions must be made in writing to the Department for Health and Wellbeing via officeforageingwell@sa.gov.au. Requests should include contact details and any information relevant to the request, including the urgency of the situation.

SA Health will not consider additional requests for exemptions in relation to flu vaccination. The RACF is responsible for ensuring that prohibited persons do not enter or remain on the premises. The RACF operator is responsible for considering and accepting an unvaccinated person entering their facility under one of the exceptions, based on the evidence provided to them and appropriate documentation should be kept.

Interstate travellers

All interstate travellers must complete a cross border pre-approval form prior to arrival into South Australia. The cross border travel application form is available from SA Police.

Cross border community members who are permitted to enter and travel in South Australia under the Cross Border Direction are also permitted to enter residential aged care facilities located within South Australia.

Relatives who travel from anywhere other than a low community transmission zone to provide end of life support to a resident are permitted to visit a residential aged care facility (RACF) within 14 days of entering SA, however, they must wear appropriate PPE while on the premises of the RACF and provide written evidence of a negative COVID-19 test.

Visit the Cross-border travel page for more information.

Influenza vaccinations

All staff and visitors to a RACF must be vaccinated against influenza. Except for:

  • infants too young to be vaccinated;
  • exceptional end of life circumstances;
  • if a person has a medical contraindication to the influenza vaccine. A letter from a medical practitioner must be provided to the RACF by any unvaccinated person seeking to enter under this exemption.
  • if the vaccine is not reasonably available (this includes the period during which supply of the 2020 flu vaccine is no longer available and supply of the 2021 flu vaccine has not yet commenced), and
  • emergency situations.

Retirement villages

Retirement village operators should refer to the fact sheet - COVID 19 advice for retirement village operators (PDF 203KB). This fact sheet provides information and advice to operators of retirement villages in South Australia and outlines the measures that operators should take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to retirement village residents and others.

The Aged Care Direction does not apply to retirement villages, however, retirement villages and residents must comply with the restrictions outlined in the Public Activities Direction.

COVID-19 vaccine

The Commonwealth Department of Health has full responsibility for the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination program in RACF, other than SA Health operated facilities.

For further information about COVID-19 vaccines in RACF, visit the Information for aged care providers, workers and residents about COVID-19 vaccines page on the Australian Department of Health website.

Residents and staff of SA Health operated RACF will receive information about their COVID-19 vaccination directly from their Local Health Network.

For more information

Fact sheets

Resources