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Pandemic management plan: COVID-19 impact on residential aged care

4th September, 2020 | Author: Dr Rebecca Hoile

While Residential Aged Care facilities have dealt with outbreaks before, none were quite as challenging as COVID-19. With the realisation that an existing pandemic management plan was unable to tackle the specific challenges and impacts of this new coronavirus, many are in search of tools to collate and designate critical actions to prepare for and respond to an outbreak of this kind.

Seven months after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, we are now acutely aware of the characteristics of the new coronavirus including how it spreads, and the challenges of maintaining control through the implementation of public health and social measures. None more so than Residential Aged Care facilities, home to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

The impacts of COVID-19 in the Aged Care industry

The impacts of COVID-19 to human life in Residential Aged Care have been devastating, with several investigations identifying some of the catalysts to be staff movements between facilities, limited use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and inadequate infection control procedures.

These important lessons have resulted in State and Federal changes to Residential Aged Care Directions, and subsequently providers must now develop tailored COVID-19 response plans.

Recently, there have been reportable successes in managing COVID-19 cases, and prevention of outbreaks, such as those within Shepparton Village in Melbourne and the Ashfield Aged Care Home in Sydney. They attest much of their success to:

  • rapid segregation;
  • use of PPE;
  • effective communication; and
  • integration with appropriate health authorities and response teams.

Yet, several Residential Aged Care providers are still struggling to collate these elements into a practical and tailored pandemic management plan.

COVID-19 management plan for Aged Care

To assist Residential Aged Care providers, RiskLogic have developed a comprehensive COVID-19 Pandemic Management Plan, which can be tailored to your facility. A COVID-19 Management Plan details three key sections with comprehensive actions, displayed in this traffic light sequence.

  1. GREEN – A COVIDSafe Plan- protocols and procedures for reducing viral transmission.
  2. ORANGE – A Preservation Plan – triggers and response actions to community transmission.
  3. RED – An Outbreak Plan – rapid response protocols for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases within your facility.

The opportunity to work with numerous Residential Aged Care providers across Australia in developing their plans has highlighted a number of gaps and challenges.

Primarily, the lack of strategic oversight and limited knowledge of crisis management tools and processes, lack of preservation planning,( i.e. what can be done and when to preserve the staff and critical business functions required to serve residents and stakeholders), and a limited understanding of the integration of onsite Pandemic Response Teams with local State health authorities.

COVID-19 response plans

These crucial elements have been incorporated into our COVID-19 Management Plan, which provides a framework for Critical Incident Management within this unique environment, whilst addressing the three vital elements of any COVID-19 response, namely timely response strategies, health and safety considerations, and preservation of critical business functions that are relied on by our most vulnerable.

The capability of Residential Aged Care facilities to effectively prepare for and respond to COVID-19 has never been more important to ensure the human life impact of this pandemic is curbed.

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About Dr Rebecca Hoile | Senior Manager, RiskLogic

Dr Rebecca Hoile brings 20 years’ experience in emergency and crisis management, working across public health and law enforcement at the national and international level. Rebecca has worked as a consultant to the World Health Organisation, World Health Emergencies Programme and was a Senior Manager at INTERPOL, working within the Counter Terrorism Directorate.