Released - 12 May 2020
The ‘Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19’ has been released by 13 aged care peak bodies and consumer advocacy organisations. The Code creates a nationally consistent approach that ensures residents can receive visitors while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The Code was finalised after public consultation with both consumers and aged care providers. It cements a human rights approach to care that both protects and respects aged care residents and their visitors. The Code acknowledges the work that providers and staff are doing to keep people safe during the pandemic.
The Code includes the respective rights and responsibilities of providers, residents and visitors. It outlines that homes should allow residents to meet their visitors in ways that minimise the risk of COVID-19’s introduction to, or spread within, a residential care home.
- Click here to download the code (Updated 20 November 2020)
- The Code and FAQs is also available here.
The Code will be reviewed in three weeks to address any implementation issues and ensure it will respond to current concerns.
Fourth Review - 20 November 2020
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the Department of Health, consumers and aged care peak bodies have revisited industry codes to support aged care providers to make informed decisions regarding visitation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As the Aged Care sector moves to the ‘COVID-19 Normal’ phase, aged care providers must adopt visitation approaches that are more open, while increasing availability and access, and managing the ongoing risk of an outbreak in their facilities.
- Guidelines for visitation to residential aged care facilities have been revised to provide more proportionate protection to residents.
- Revised guidelines now include a tiered approach outlining how residential aged care providers can respond to COVID-19.
- The new ‘Tiered Escalation’ model allows residential aged care providers to escalate or de-escalate their response depending on the COVID-19 situation they are facing.
- Fewer restrictions will be placed on visitors where there is no community transmission (Tier 1), and ramped up if the facility is located within a defined hotspot (Tier 2) or when there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the community (Tier 3).
- The ‘Tiered Escalation’ model should be used to determine and continually assess the level of visitation to aged care residents and additional restrictions required to protect residents against the ongoing risk of COVID-19.
Third Review - 23 July 2020
Second Review - 3 July 2020
The Industry Code on Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes was reviewed on 26 June 2020 by consumer and provider advocates.
- considered and incorporated feedback from consumers, families, advocates, providers and the public as well as through the consumer and provider peak bodies; and
- incorporated updated Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice (of 19 June 2020 available here) and the most recent state and territory Directives with which aged care providers and visitors must comply.
The review noted significant increased adoption of the Code across aged care homes and broadly positive feedback about visits being received from consumers, families, advocates, providers and the public.
The Code was updated to reflect that:
- “spouses or other close relatives or social supports” are not limited in the number of hours they spend with relatives;
- children under 16 are once again able to visit aged care homes;
- all visitors must be vaccinated against influenza;
- all visitors should practice social distancing;
- staff are required to screen visitors, educate visitors about social distancing and hygiene during their visit, but not supervise visits;
- visits should occur in a resident’s room, outdoors or in a designated visiting area – but not in communal areas;
- there is a maximum of two visitors per resident at any one time;
- residents are able to leave to attend small family gatherings (with providers undertaking a risk assessment prior to the outing and a screening process post);
- in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the home or a local cluster in the community – increased restrictions, including supervised visits and suspension of external excursions may be reintroduced.
At the time of the review a number of suburbs have been identified by the Victorian government as “hotspots” and have been subject of a public health ‘stay at home’ order. It is appropriate for aged care homes in these “hotspot” suburbs to adopt increased visitor restrictions, consistent with the Code and the updated AHPPC advice.
Other homes across the country may apply additional restrictions, consistent with the Code, on visitors who have been in these “hotspots” over the past 14 days.
FAQs have been published to assist consumers and aged care homes use and understand the Code.
The Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 has been developed and endorsed by:
Aged sector provider peak organisations
Consumer and Carers peak organisations