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COVID-19: Support for aged care

Information for GPs and residential aged care facilities.

Page last updated: 3pm, 27 October 2022

Our role in aged care is to:

  • improve access to GP care for residents
  • improve the connection between GPs, residential aged care facilities (RACFs) and hospital services
  • increase access to mental health supports for residents and staff.

We are working closely with our expert advisory group.

Our role in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in aged care is facilitating communications between RACFs, vaccination providers, GPs, hospitals and other local health providers, and state and federal health authorities.

Below is a summary of key information, resources and links including localised resources for GPs and RACFs in the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) region.

COVID-19 outbreak management

  • Tips in the event of an outbreak in a RACF

    • In the event of an outbreak, promptly isolate and inform COVID-19 positive cases.
    • Immediate notifications are required within one hour:
    • Activate your outbreak management plan:
      • Leadership to emphasise and reinforce the plan
      • Cohort residents and staff (visit for cohorting FAQs)
      • Have a communication plan for residents, staff and stakeholders
      • Infection prevention and control
      • Monitor residents for signs and symptoms
      • Entry screening
    • Manage workforce and enact contingencies if required.
    • Ensure your facility has at least one weeks’ worth of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Helpful resources

  • Other things to consider

    • You will need wrist bands for residents.
    • You will need:
      • PPE for staff
      • to be able to set up places to put on and take off PPE
      • places to store additional PPE stocks.
    • Check your supply of equipment and signs. You should also have a plan to manage contaminated clinical waste.
    • Plan how you will organise residents in different scenarios and how staff will access those areas. Consider the layout of your facility and the implications for staff and equipment.
    • Identify how you will need to adjust care delivery and services in the event of an outbreak. You will need separate equipment for each zone.
    • You will receive lots of telephone calls as entry to your facility will be controlled. Make sure you can provide additional phone numbers and staff to cope with the volume of calls.
    • Catering and laundry services will also be affected. Think about what disposable equipment you may need, such as disposable crockery.
    • You will need line lists for your staff.

COVID-19 vaccine information

  • Aged care readiness toolkit

    The Australian Department of Health has published a readiness toolkit for residential aged care facilities to help prepare for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and obtaining and recording consent for residents.
  • Aged care resource pack

    The Australian Department of Health has published a resource pack for residential aged care providers, workers, residents, carers and families relating to the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out.

  • Proof of vaccination for aged care workers

    COVID-19 vaccinations are now mandatory for residential aged care workers. A fact sheet for residential aged care providers on reporting COVID-19 vaccinations and exemptions is available on the Australian Department of Health website.

    What to do if a worker’s COVID-19 vaccination status is not showing on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

    If a worker has received their COVID-19 vaccination but it is not yet showing on their Immunisation history Statement, it may be because the vaccine provider has not uploaded the person’s vaccination record to the AIR.

    As a first step, providers and facilities can call the AIR on 1800 653 809 (8:00am–5:00pm, Monday to Friday AEST) and Human Services will prioritise update of the worker’s vaccination record.

    If your workforce was vaccinated on site by a Commonwealth vaccine provider, and a worker’s vaccination status is not yet appearing on their Immunisation History Statement, please contact the vaccine provider directly. Contact details for vaccine providers are available in the Australian Department of Health fact sheet.

    You will need to provide the individual’s full name, Medicare number and date of vaccination at your facility.

    If a worker was vaccinated at an alternate site, such as a GP or state and territory run clinic, providers should assist their workers in contacting the vaccine provider and requesting the vaccination record be uploaded to their Immunisation History Statement.
In this video Dr Wendy Bamberg (Western Public Health Unit) answers common questions about COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations.

Allied health services for RACFs

  • Group physical therapy to residents in aged care facilities affected by COVID-19

    NWMPHN has commissioned a $6.5 million program, funded by the Australian Department of Health, to deliver group therapy programs to eligible RACFs. This program is aimed at improving the physical function of residents at risk of deconditioning due to COVID-19 restrictions.

    Learn more.

    For more information, please email

Mental health services for aged care residents

  • Free psychological support services

    Free psychological support is available to residents in aged care facilities in our region. This service is delivered by Better Place Australia and commissioned by NWMPHN.

    The service is for residents at risk of or experiencing mild to moderate mental health concerns. This could include residents living with anxiety or depression, or who are experiencing social isolation, as well as new residents transitioning into residential care.

    How to refer

    To enquire or refer to the service please contact:

    Rhonda Withers
    Better Place Australia
    P: (03) 9556 5333

    • Referrals to the Better Place Australia psychological support service can be made by the resident’s GP or by a registered nurse of the facility, with the consent of the resident (or a resident’s next of kin).
    • Once a referral is received, Better Place Australia will contact the residential aged care facility to make arrangements with the facility and to set up an appointment with the resident.

    How psychological support is delivered to residents

    • Experienced mental health practitioners including mental health nurses, mental health social workers, and psychologists will provide psychological support to residents.
    • Services will be offered by phone, telehealth, or face-to-face (when it is possible and safe to do so).
    • Services can be provided on an individual basis and/or through group sessions with other residents (if appropriate).
    • The service may be suitable for some residents with dementia, but it is not an alternative to the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) for residents who are experiencing changes in behaviour that affect their care or carers. DBMAS can be contacted for advice or to make a referral on 1800 699 799.

NWMPHN resources

RACGP resources

  • Deprescribing

    The RACGP has developed an aged care clinical guide (Silver Book) for deprescribing where appropriate. For example, reduce the number of dose times in 24 hours to reduce exposure of staff.

    View the guide

  • Preparing for COVID 19 in aged care (webinar)

    The RACGP held a webinar on 27 August 2020: Preparing for your first COVID-19 case in aged care – Lessons from Melbourne. Presenters included Dr M Imran Marzook, Dr Jagdeesh Singh Dhaliwal, Dr Cathy Parsons, Dr Paul Yates and Dr Nicholas Jones.

    View the webinar

  • Home-care guidelines for adult patients with mild COVID-19

    The RACGP has developed this guide for GPs to support them in providing home-based care in a private residential home (including public or community housing) for adult patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

    View the guide

Palliative care

Medication management

  • Supplying medicines to RACFs: requirements for pharmacists

    A summary of mechanisms available to pharmacists to lawfully supply Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 poisons to residential aged care services is available on the health.vic website.

  • Dexamethasone and COVID-19

Government resources

Other resources

  • Communicating with RACF residents during COVID-19

    The following overseas resources may help local GPs effectively communicate with RACF residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce

    The Taskforce is supporting Australia’s health care professionals with continually updated, evidence-based clinical guidelines.


  • Strategies to promote access to medications during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Safer Care Victoria COVID-19 screening tool for RACFs

    Use this screening tool to identify typical and atypical signs of COVID-19 in aged care residents.