Information about COVID-19 vaccines

Information for aged care providers, workers and residents about COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccination is the most effective protection against COVID-19. Protecting the people who live and work in residential aged care is a priority.

Providers play a key role in ensuring their residents and workers can access COVID-19 vaccinations safely and easily.

Advice for the COVID-19 booster dose

This fact sheet provides frequently asked questions for aged care residents, their families and carers on the updated September 2023 ATAGI advice for the COVID-19 booster dose.

This fact sheet provides frequently asked questions for residential aged care providers and workers on the updated September 2023 ATAGI advice for the COVID-19 booster dose.

Check all contact details and communicate intention to continue on-site visitation in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak

Check the RACH has your details

Make sure the RACH:

  • has accurate contact numbers and details for you, your practice and after-hours contacts.
  • they are stored with the RACH’s COVID-19 Outbreak Management plan.

CHECK the RACH has a list of your patients

Keep an up-to-date list of the residents you care for at each site and make sure the site also has a list of the residents you care for.

CHECK the contacts you have for the RACH

  • Refer to the RACH’s governance chart.
  • Ensure you know who is in charge and how to contact them. This may be a facility manager or nurse manager.
  • Check you have contact information for the local Aged Care Rapid Response Teams (BRACE, GRACE & ARRT) and understand the likely escalation points.
  • Ensure you can contact the pharmacy that supplies your residents, including after-hours, in case of urgent medication needs.

ADVISE RACH if you will visit during COVID-19

Advise the RACH whether you are willing to continue to physically visit the site in appropriate PPE in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, for either COVID positive or non-COVID residents.

If you are visiting multiple RACHs, check you will be able to continue to visit unaffected sites concurrently. Potential solutions to this could be the use of telehealth or liaising with a “lead”, onsite GP linked to your other RACHs. SWSPHN can assist with coordination of GP workforce in these situations.

Review your patient’s records

REVIEW the patient’s clinical details

Ensure patients clinical summary and details, including next of kin, are up-to-date and can be effectively used as a handover summary.

REVIEW goals of care and care escalation

Review goals of care and care escalation for each of your patients in the RACH.

REVIEW the patient’s ACP

Review of Advance Care Plans for all patients. Discuss plans for what would happen to a resident if they were to contract COVID-19.

REVIEW the patient’s medication charts and prescriptions

Review medication charts: make sure prescriptions are up to date. Consider:

  • ensuring all prescriptions have at least a seven-day supply remaining.
  • AVOID ALL NEBULISERS due to the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 through droplet spread. Instead, consider prescribing a spacer.
  • anticipatory medications for palliative care needs (morphine and midazolam subcutaneously in appropriate dosage).
  • Check HealthPathways f0r latest recommendations.

Transitions of care are high risk for medication errors. Use of MyHealthRecord and the Pharmacy Shared Medicine List is recommended to ensure information can be accessed quickly and effectively.

Immunisation record

Ensure flu vaccinations are up-to-date.

Manage your RACH patients

PROVIDE continuity of care

Maintain continuity of care through face-to-face care or by telehealth. COVID-19 MBS telehealth items can be claimed, see for news and COVID -19 telehealth MBS items.

Provide ongoing care for residents who choose to go home with family.

ACCESS to clinical advice and COVID-19 information

If you are managing patients with COVID-19 and have any COVID-19 specific questions you may: 

CONNECT and communicate with families

Contact families and be a conduit for information for them. Consider having a video conference for several families or all the families of your patients from the one facility at the same time for rapid sharing of information and to allay anxiety.

Plan for COVID-19 surge capacity

PLAN for surge capacity

Plan for surge capacity amongst your colleagues, if possible, in discussion with the nursing staff.

Consider forming a group where one (or more) “lead” GPs continue to visit the site if others need to self-isolate. The visiting GPs can perform any tasks that can’t be undertaken via telehealth. The RACH may be able to advise who the attending GPs are for the facility.

SWSPHN works closely with the Local Health District, Commonwealth Department of Health and the Aged Care Commission by attending outbreak management huddles with RACHs and local hospital in-reach teams to agree how best to manage COVID positive patients.  Email the SWSPHN COVID Response Team for details.

SEEK ADVICE for concerns about an RACH

If you have concerns about a RACH’s ability to prepare adequately or to cope with escalating issues, email SWSPHN COVID response.

When an RACH is affected by an outbreak: GPs need to BE PREPARED for

New staff and management

  • Usual RACH staff may be furloughed/quarantined, and replacement staff put in place who do not know the residents, their medical care needs or care wishes. In some instances, this can include surge GP workforce to provide on-site care. However, SWSPHN is encouraging continuity of care with a patient’s regular GP wherever possible.
  • RACH management may also have been quarantined/replaced.
  • Breakdown in usual procedures when regular staff are replaced.

GPs impacted by COVID

Some visiting GPs may be in isolation or unable to attend facilities on site. Plan amongst GPs and facility staff. SWSPHN can assist with sourcing GPs from other general practices.

Communication difficulties

  • Difficulty contacting nursing staff within the RACH (e.g. phone calls unanswered or very limited information provided in response to GPs’ calls).
  • Difficulties with communication lines within the facility (e.g. messages not being transferred between wings or floors of the facility).
  • Frequent contact from residents’ family members seeking information about their family member.

Before you go, please consider checking the COVID-19 for health professionals in South Western Sydney section of this website.

This will help keep you on top of the rapidly changing situation. If you need further help, please email SWSPHN COVID response.

This article is also available in PDF to download [PDF | 5 pages | 200kb]

Acknowledgment – Adapted from Northern Western Melbourne PHN: Advice for GPs with patients in aged care.