IPC in residential care

Clinical Governance & Covid



How is your Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)



Over recent months we have seen many residential aged care facilities suffer at the hands of Covid-19. Concurrently we have also seen increased vaccination rates for residents and compulsory vaccinations for staff. In addition IPC leads are a regulatory requirement, and their role will evolve post pandemic.

Current Covid Case Numbers

As of 2 October 2021, the Commonwealth Department of Health shows 728 people have died from Covid-19 in residential care, across Australia. The largest numbers in New South Wales and Victoria. Every week the current Covid cases in residential care are listed. At the time of writing, there are 39 Active Covid-19 Active Outbreaks in Residential Care across Australia.


The updated advice to residential aged care facilities in New South Wales, can change daily. If your home has an IPC Lead it could be advisable for them to check this information daily. If your home does not yet have an IPC Lead, consider having someone else allocated to this important information update task.

Covid Lockdown

There are number of things that will happen when a Covid positive case, in either residents or staff, is identified. The positive Covid identification engages supports from Commonwealth and State Health Departments.

However, each home also has to implement an Outbreak Management plan. The best guide available is from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. The Aged Care Royal Commission makes mention of the input from external experts on developing appropriate outbreak management plans.

The Outbreak Management Plan is in addition to the home’s Infection Control Policy, Donning and Doffing competencies and Hand Hygiene competencies. Each document forms part of the suite of information to meet Infection Control and Covid Pandemic requirements.

Another source of vital information is the Clinical Excellence Commission.  They have valuable information and resources for infection control, and residential care specific resources.

PPE and other services

PPE becomes the primary thing in lockdown. PPE inventory, PPE usage, PPE donning and doffing, PPE donning and doffing stations, PPE orders, and PPE waste removal.

Mask fitting becomes a crucial component of keeping safe. Incorrectly fitted masks increase the risk of spreading Covid. There is information available on how to correctly fit a face mask. Correctly applied, the face mask reduces the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Depending on the number of residents and staff, size and shape of the building; an appropriate zone allocation for cohorting staff plan needs to be put in place. This will ensure that staff work in one area of the home only, whereby reducing the risk of spread.

PCR and RAT testing

The number of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) have increased to phenomenal levels during 2021. But which one works best. The research shows RAT are fast and largely accurate. However, the PCR test holds the Gold Standard for accuracy.

Some providers have moved to regular usage of RAT testing. Consider, this in itself can also be time consuming to perform on site. In addition, any false positive will need to be followed up by PCR testing to confirm or deny Covid-19.

Covid Vaccination

Around 97% of aged care staff has now received at least their first dose. This is expected to reach 100% soon, with the availability of vaccination venues becoming more readily available.

Clinical Governance

In July 2019 the new Aged Care Standards were introduced. As part of the process Governance was introduced into residential aged care. Governance is now a critical part of the process for residential aged care providers to meet the Standards. So what exactly is Governance.

The Australian Standards, outside of residential care demonstrate that Governance provides principles to guide governing bodies to meet their responsibilities. This is the most positive and innovative change to the Aged Care Standards since 1997. Correct implementation of Governance will enhance care outcomes for consumers, whilst promoting the business simultaneously.

Where to next

Implementation of appropriate Governance alongside adequate IPC processes, will reduce your risk of exposure to Covid-19. How do I know? Because I have expertise in Covid testing, on Covid hospital wards, and in Covid lockdown residential care facilities. With a background in ED Nursing, and Aged Care Auditing, I have immense knowledge and expertise around how to reduce your risk, and get out of lockdown quickly and safely.

As we come towards a reduction in Covid numbers in New South Wales, nobody has a crystal ball for what the future holds. Get in touch so that we can help you reduce your risk.