Aged care: effective leadership critical in managing outbreaks

Friday, 05 November, 2021

Aged care: effective leadership critical in managing outbreaks

The federal government has accepted all 38 recommendations from the Independent Review of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities.

The review, said Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt, and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck, was an important blueprint as we navigate the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

“It has been an extremely challenging time for all of us, but particularly senior and vulnerable Australians and those who care for them,” Minister Hunt said.

The recommendations will help facility administrators better prepare for and respond to future COVID-19 outbreaks and will assist the government in monitoring and evaluating these measures, he said.

Minister Colbeck said the review was already guiding measures for the protection of aged care residents and workers in the current New South Wales, Victoria and ACT outbreaks. “Importantly, the findings show that while community transmission is the biggest predictor of COVID‑19 outbreaks in aged care settings, effective leadership at all levels is the most critical factor in defending against the virus,” Minister Colbeck said.

He said the information in the report will also provide input and guidance into the principles required as we move towards living with COVID-19 in residential aged care.

The report outlines nine key lines of defence to minimise risk of COVID-19 outbreaks: built environment and infrastructure; clinical care; effective interagency communication; emergency response; infection prevention and control; leadership, management and governance; planning and preparation; preventing social isolation; and workforce and staff mental health.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and its Aged Care Advisory Group have considered the recommendations.

Minister Hunt said the government will continue to adapt the way it prepares for and responds to an outbreak, based on what has been learned, in collaboration with the sector, state and territory governments and health authorities.

“It will also be important that, as the community transitions to living with COVID, we continue with critical strategies such as vaccinations and testing, so that aged care residents and staff are protected.”

The full report can be found here.

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