Services update for residential aged care facilities in the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network catchment

An aged care resident experiencing pain as he rises out of a chair.
  15 February 2021  NWMPHN

Last week we contacted aged care providers in the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) region about several new and existing services.

  • New program for allied health professionals to provide group physical therapy to residents in aged care facilities affected by COVID-19
  • New mental health support service for residential aged care workers
  • Existing psychological support service for aged care residents
  • COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations

We will continue to update aged care providers this year as more information becomes available. If you wish to change the contact details we have on file for your facility, please contact Ash Badhan by email: ash.badhan@nwmphn.org.au

Allied health professionals to provide group physical therapy to residents in aged care facilities affected by COVID-19

NWMPHN will soon commission a new $7 million program, funded by the Australian Department of Health, to deliver allied health services into residential aged care facilities (RACFs) in our region affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.

The program will include the commissioning of physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and occupational therapists to provide group physical therapy to residents in RACFs affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Department of Health has determined that RACFS with two or more cases of COVID-19 as of 23 October 2020 are eligible to participate in this program. 54 RACFs in our region have been identified as eligible.

We are contacting eligible facilities to obtain information about your facility’s existing engagement with allied health services.

New mental health support service for residential aged care workers

NWMPHN has commissioned APMHA HealthCare to provide a tailored mental health program for staff employed in RACFs in our region. This program will be available to all staff in all 132 residential aged care facilities in the NWMPHN region.

The service is a response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on RACFs in our region. It will help equip RACF workers to manage their mental wellbeing and resilience to stress and trauma. A key focus will be the provision of support for aged care workers who do not currently access mental health services and/or do not have access to an Employee Assistance Program through their workplace.

We are contacting all facilities with more information on this service and a survey for staff members so we can better understand the needs of the RACF workforce.

Psychological support service for aged care residents

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
ERhonda.withers@betterplace.com.au

  • 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.

Vaccinations: COVID-19 and influenza

COVID-19

Vaccination of aged care workers and residents will begin in the first phase of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy. People in your facilities may have questions about the process for testing, approving and delivering the COVID-19 vaccines. Please refer to the Australian Department of Health website for more information.

Delivery of COVID-19 vaccines into RACFs will need to be coordinated with delivery of the 2021 influenza vaccine, as advised by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

We will update you as specific information for RACFs in our region becomes available.

Influenza

Planning for 2021 staff influenza vaccinations should be underway to meet the Commonwealth requirement for all RACF staff and volunteers to be vaccinated before 1 May 2021.

This year’s influenza vaccine is updated to protect against the most common strains of flu currently circulating. Last year’s vaccine shortage was due to significantly increased demand for vaccine, resulting in many vaccine providers being unable to obtain enough stock to complete booked sessions. Due to the continuing pandemic, high uptake of influenza vaccine is expected again this year.

Booking an onsite visit by an immunisation service provider or purchasing pharmacy vouchers for staff remain good ways to provide staff and volunteer vaccinations. Some staff and volunteers will be eligible for a free vaccine from their usual vaccine provider. Using an immunisation service provider or pharmacy vouchers reduces the risk of staff receiving ineffective vaccine due to incorrect cold chain storage.

A reminder: vaccines must not be ordered from a medical supplier and then stored onsite in a standard domestic refrigerator or an incorrectly monitored vaccine fridge, as this would contravene the Australian vaccine storage guidelines.

Questions?

More information on the support we can provide for aged care is available on our website. We suggest bookmarking this page as we will update it regularly with new information.

If you have any questions about the support we can provide, please phone 03 9347 1188 or email covid@nwmphn.org.au