Residential aged care facility response to COVID-19 or influenza outbreaks

Aged Care Facilities have been supported to develop and implement COVID-19 and Influenza Outbreak Management Plans to minimise the impact of these illnesses and maximise the safety of residents, staff and visitors.

Further information regarding the South Australian Residential Aged Care COVID-19 and Influenza Responses can be found at SA Health Aged Care COVID-19 and CDNA Guideline for Outbreaks of Acute Respiratory Infection in Residential Care Facilities.

Oral antiviral treatment plan (COVID-19 and Influenza)

Early treatment of COVID-19 or influenza with antiviral medication can reduce disease severity. General Practitioners and Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF) staff are encouraged to discuss with all residents, or their substitute decision makers, their wishes and consent for antiviral treatment (including wishes for prophylaxis in the influenza outbreak setting), should they become infected with COVID-19 or influenza in the future.

The Oral Antiviral Treatment Plan (COVID and Influenza) for residents of South Australian aged care facilities template (DOCX 31KB) may be used to guide these discussions and document treatment eligibility and consent ahead of time, to facilitate timely access to treatment in the event of infection or outbreak.

Residents with acute respiratory illness

All residents with acute respiratory symptoms should have a full respiratory viral panel PCR. Find more information in the SA Health Viral Respiratory Outbreak Flowchart (PDF 298KB).

The RACF should notify the General Practitioners of a positive COVID or influenza result by phone within 24 hours. This will trigger an initial assessment of disease severity (which can be completed by telehealth or face to face) and initiation of antiviral treatment.

Treatment of COVID mild illness

Detailed information regarding treatments and referrals for COVID-19 is available on the SA Health website.

Treatment of influenza

Early initiation of antiviral treatment (within 48 hours of symptom onset) in adults with confirmed influenza reduces the risk of secondary complications requiring antibiotic therapy, and hospitalisation. Provision of medication after this time to cases will decrease shedding time and reduce transmission but not affect the course of illness.

The usual treatment is Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) 75mg bd for 5 days. Prophylaxis may be considered in the RACF outbreak setting. More information is available in the NPS overview of influenza prevention and therapy.

Oseltamivir has been pre-placed in RACFs from April 2022.

Residential Aged Care Community Pathway

The residential aged care community pathway connects referred aged care residents with the SA Virtual Care Service, facilitating access to urgent care delivered in the RACF setting where this is appropriate.

Managing associated symptoms and palliative care in patients with respiratory viral illness

The Commission for Excellence and Innovation in Health have put together resources and guidelines for health professionals managing palliative care during COVID-19. This includes assessment and management of shortness of breath, delirium and end of life care.

Further information can be found at Palliative Care during COVID 19.

Reporting deaths

The RACF must report the death of a resident who dies (from any cause) within 28 days of being diagnosed with COVID-19 to CDCB COVID Operations.