Information for Residential Aged Care Facilities
Older adults often have weaker immune systems and can be affected by underlying chronic disease which make them more susceptible to infections. The Public Health Unit provides support and advice to residential aged care facilities on various aspects of outbreak management.
The Public Health Unit is also notified of diseases which are listed under the Public Health Act 2010, and if associated with a residential aged care facility, the Public Health Unit will assist in following up individual cases, clusters, and suspected outbreaks. Below you will find information on reporting and managing disease outbreaks in residential aged care facilities, and vaccination requirements and recommendations for residents, staff and volunteers.
Residential aged care facilities should contact their Public Health Unit by phone as soon as possible if they suspect a disease outbreak.
An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness is defined as two or more people of any age with sudden onset of diarrhoea or vomiting within a 24 hour period.
An influenza outbreak is usually defined as three or more cases of influenza-like illness (or other acute respiratory illness) during a 72 hour period.
To contact the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, phone 9382 8333 during business hours. For after hours, phone 9382 2222 and ask for the Public Health Officer on call.
If you suspect there is an infectious disease outbreak at your residential aged care facility, you should contact your Public Health Unit as soon as possible. To contact the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, phone (02) 9382 8333 during business hours. For after hours, phone (02) 9382 222 and ask for the Public Health Officer on call. The Public Health Unit will provide you with information and assistance throughout the outbreak.
Once you have notified the Public Health Unit, you will be instructed to send a line list at the start of the outbreak, and will be advised on when to send updated line lists throughout the outbreak. A line list is a document containing information on the number of staff and residents at the facility, and information regarding those who are ill.
You will also be advised on the collection of samples for testing and to increase infection control measures such as:
- Personal protective measures (eg. hand hygiene)
- Isolation of ill residents
- Reducing the risk of disease spread by excluding infected staff and restricting the number of visitors
- Thorough cleaning of potentially infected surfaces
If any residents, with or without symptoms, are sent to a hospital during the outbreak, the hospital should be notified that the facility is experiencing a possible or confirmed outbreak.
The Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of Influenza Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia recommend that residential aged care facilities have a policy for vaccinating staff, volunteers and residents against the flu (influenza).
From 1 May 2018, residential aged care providers that are subsidised by the Australian Government are required to have a flu vaccination program in place that provides staff and volunteers with free access to the flu vaccination every year, actively promotes the benefits of the flu vaccination, and keeps a record of those who have been vaccinated.
Residential aged care facilities are able to order their own influenza vaccines if they have a Vaccine Account Number (VAN). Influenza vaccine order forms are available on the NSW Health website.
For more information, visit the Mandatory influenza (flu) vaccination program for residential aged care providers page on the Department of Health website.
Please click here for Frequently Asked Questions
Below are links to agencies and other organisations that contain useful information:
- A-Z infectious disease factsheets
- Controlling influenza outbreaks in aged care facilities factsheet
- NSW flu info kit
- Respiratory outbreak management poster
- Influenza vaccination for residential care staff brochure (available in Arabic, Chinese, English, Filipino, Hindi, Nepali, Polish and Vietnamese)
- Visitors poster
- Gastro-info - outbreak coordinator's handbook
- Gastroenteritis in aged care facilities
- Viral gastroenteritis - infection control implications for hospitals and aged care facilities
- Gastro pack for hospitals and aged care facilities
- Public Health Act 2010