Carers Australia

The voice for carers across Australia

There remains a substantial increase in risk of severe COVID-19 illness in people aged over 70. The Department of Health has provided the following advice for aged people and their carers.

Steps senior Australians can take to protect themselves

As we continue to move towards a safer Australia, it is important to take into consideration how you can reduce your risk of catching coronavirus. Everyone’s situation is different, but there some steps we can all take:

  • Talk with your family about the potential risks to your health if you were to get coronavirus and how you can minimise the risk of getting it.
  • Download the COVIDSafe app if you have a smart phone.
  • Consider your health and wellbeing when deciding whether to go out into your community. If you’re feeling unwell, stay home.
  • If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, get tested.
  • If you choose to go out in public remember:
    • Continue to stay 1.5 metres away from others where possible,
    • Practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene; and
    • The wearing of masks is encouraged.

Medical appointments, prescriptions and flu shots

 It is important for you to keep your regular medical appointments. If you need to see a doctor, you can arrange to have a telehealth appointment rather than face-to-face.

Unfortunately, the legislated requirement introduced earlier in the year for medical practitioners and other medical professionals to bulk bill telehealth services for certain vulnerable patient groups, including concession card holders, has now been removed.

If you need a prescription, you can arrange for your doctor to send it to your pharmacy. Many pharmacies offer home delivery, but you will need to call your pharmacy to confirm your prescription can be delivered when you need it.

Don’t forget to get your flu shot – they’re free for people over the age of 65. Call your doctor to arrange an appointment.

Family members and friends can play their part, too

Family and friends can also help protect older people from coronavirus.

  • If you are feeling unwell, stay home. Do not visit older family members or friends if you are unwell.
  • If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, get tested.
  • If you are visiting older family members or friends, clean and sanitise any items you intend to take with you, including gifts.
  • Look for other ways of staying in touch with older friends and family in aged care facilities.
  • If you are concerned about the health of an older family member or friend, encourage them to call their doctor. Remind them they can have a telehealth appointment instead of a face-to-face appointment.

Wellbeing and social support for older Australians and their carers

  • The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line is a new phone service that provides information and support for older Australians, their families and carers. If you need assistance please call 1800 171 866.
  • The Community Visitors Scheme is available for people receiving or approved for residential care or home care packages. The Scheme offers ongoing friendship or companionship. People can be set-up with a volunteer who will call or contact them by phone or online. Different organisations provide the Community Visitors Scheme in different locations. Please visit the Department of Health website to be directed to a provider in your area.
  • The FriendLine is a phone service for anyone who needs to reconnect or just wants a chat. Conversations are casual and anonymous. You can call them on 1800 424 287.

Visiting residential aged care homes

While it is important to take reasonable steps to protect residents, visitors and staff, and there are special measures in place to stop the spread of the virus through residential aged care facilities, it is also important that residents are still able to receive visits from family and friend carers, especially when these carers provide personal care during their visits.

An Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-has been developed to both protect vulnerable aged care residents from COVID-19, and ensure visits can still take place. This Code is supported by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC). To find out more about carers and residential aged care visits see:

https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/sites/default/files/media/acqsc_partners_in_care_factsheet_final.pdf

If you are having issues gaining access please contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 237 981.

This service is available 7 days a week from 6am – 10pm.

Home Care Services

The Government has prepared a guide for Home Care Providers which identifies what they need to do to provide safe services to older people during the coronavirus period. This information is also useful for consumers and family and friend carers.

The Guide makes particular reference to contacting family and friends. This includes contacting the consumer’s family members and friends to discuss alternative delivery models if required, and identifying whether family or friends can aid in the short-term if service delivery is interrupted (e.g. cooking meals for the consumer).  Providers are also encouraged to identify whether the consumer has the support of family or friends to do online shopping for groceries, and/or the delivery of medications.