(Australian Associated Press)
All recommendations made as part of a review into COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities will be adopted by the federal government.
The independent review made 38 recommendations on how to better manage outbreaks in residential settings, which Health Minister Greg Hunt said would be prioritised to help protect senior Australians.
Among the recommendations were further consultations to phase out shared rooms and bathrooms to reduce risk, outbreak handling training prioritised and calls for long-term funding to improve infection control.
The review said the recommendations were made among nine lines of defence, such as clinical care, emergency responses, infection control, planning and the mental health of staff.
“It is clear that the nine lines of defence overlap and individually, all are critical to outbreak control,” the review said.
“However, based on our findings, we place leadership as the most critical factor and an essential component to all other lines of defence.”
Mr Hunt said the government would adapt how outbreaks at aged care facilities would be handled.
“It has been an extremely challenging time for all of us, but particularly senior and vulnerable Australians and those who care for them,” Mr Hunt said.
“The review’s 38 recommendations will help aged care facility administrators better prepare for and respond to future COVID-19 outbreaks.”
Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck said the review’s findings were already being enacted.
“We are committed to improving out preparation for and response to outbreaks, and better supporting our most vulnerable Australians,” he said.
“We have listened to the experiences and stories of those living, working and caring in the aged care sector throughout the pandemic.”
Since the start of the pandemic in Australia, there have been more than 800 deaths in commonwealth aged care facilities.
There are a further 697 active cases in aged care settings and 1487 cases that have recovered.
The latest government data has shown there have been more than 400 residential aged care facilities that have had an outbreak.
The Australian Health Protection Principle Committee and its aged care advisory group have considered all the recommendations.
Mr Hunt said the commonwealth would work alongside state and territory governments and health authorities to help deliver the recommendations.