23

Feb
2021

COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin on North Coast

The first Pfizer/BioNTech vaccinations on the NSW North Coast will begin this week at 15 residential aged care facilities (RACFs) — seven in Ballina/Alstonville and eight in Port Macquarie.

As we are seeing in other parts of Australia, and, indeed, across the globe, the availability of the first COVID-19 vaccines in our region is a welcome start to the vaccination program that will help to safeguard our communities against the continuing threat of COVID-19.

This coincides with today’s announcements about easing restrictions in RACFS:

  • NSW residents, staff and visitors no longer need to wear masks in RACFs.
  • In regional NSW, there are no longer any restrictions on visitor numbers.
  • Residents can leave the facility for outings such as medical appointments or to visit locations in the community such as shops and cafes.
  • In all cases, as for the general community, people should still comply with social distancing, hygiene requirements, providing contact tracing details, and restricting contact with those who have been in COVID-19 hotspots or who have symptoms.

Supporting Local Media (Phase 1a RACFs)

This is an exciting week in the fight against COVID-19 and our continued efforts to protect some of the most vulnerable in our community.

With our local RACFs focusing on vaccination preparedness and support for their residents and health workforce, Healthy North Coast is now acting as a coordination point for media enquiries and interviews for the Commonwealth’s RACF vaccination program. This is an evolving situation and changes are expected, but we will continue to provide information as is comes to hand.

Please note, the majority of RACFs do not wish to be contacted by media this week as they prepare for the start of their vaccination rollout and are supporting their residents, families and staff. See below information for planned media event tomorrow.

Healthy North Coast is in contact with some local RACFs, such as Garden Village Port Macquarie, who can share this good news story and provide media content.

Garden Village Port Macquarie

Healthcare Australia’s clinical workforce is scheduled to deliver vaccines to Garden Village Port Macquarie on Saturday 27 February, with residents expected to receive vaccinations over the weekend.

Garden Village are really pleased to be commencing their vaccination program of over 130 aged care residents. Garden Village and their dedicated staff are supporting their residents — and their families, carers or decision makers — to make informed decisions about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Upcoming Media Event @ Garden Village

Ahead of the scheduled vaccine delivery, Healthy North Coast is supporting Garden Village to host a media event this week — Wednesday 24 February @ 10am — and media are invited to attend.

Access to the facility will be restricted to the event area, and only pre-identified spokespeople will be available to speak to the media.

An aged care resident who is planning to have the vaccine will be speaking.

Media attending the event are invited to submit two questions to Healthy North Coast’s media team by 5pm today, Tuesday February 23. A selection of these questions will be put to the resident by the event MC. There will be no further opportunity to interview the resident.

However, a family member and several RACF staff members will be available for interview afterwards.

Please do not contact Garden Village directly ahead of the media event. All enquiries and questions for the resident should be directed to Healthy North Coast: [email protected]

A second follow-up media event is also being considered for the following week (TBC).


Planning for the Future Rollout Phases — Data Projections

Healthy North Coast has analysed population health data and primary care availability to assess the service provision required to support Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap. We are using this modelling to assess areas of high need and advise the Australian Government on recommended priority areas.

The modelling incorporates:

  • Population health and geographic data matched to each phase
  • Practice data supplied in the recent EOI process
  • Provider availability such as the addition of GP respiratory clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and pharmacists.

In summary:

  • As shown in Figure 1, the most populous LGA is Tweed Heads with 94,857 residents, followed by Port Macquarie-Hastings with 81,404 residents.
  • Analysis of the North Coast regional population data in Figure 3 shows Nambucca Valley and Port Macquarie-Hastings LGAs have the highest proportion of over 65-year-olds. 27 per cent of all residents in these areas are aged over 65, compared with a regional average of 23 per cent.
  • When combining population size and age distribution, both Port Macquarie and Tweed Heads are the highest volume centres for aged populations.
  • As shown in Figure 4, across the North Coast region, the highest population requirement for vaccine delivery by phase will be Phase 2a.

These summary points are based on the below Healthy North Coast data analysis.

Figure 1: At a glance:

North Coast

Australia

Median age

47

37

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

5%

3%

Over 65

24%

16%

Under 14

17%

19%

 

Figure 2: North Coast populations by LGA:

LGA

Population

Tweed Valley

94,857

Port Macquarie-Hastings

81,404

Coffs Harbour

75,503

Clarence Valley

51,570

Lismore

43,905

Ballina

43,457

Byron

33,987

Kempsey

29,534

Richmond Valley

23,317

Nambucca Valley

19,688

Bellingen

12,946

Kyogle

8,979

 

Figure 3: North Coast percentage of population who are over 65 years of age by LGA:

LGA

% of population over 65

Port Macquarie-Hastings

27%

Nambucca Valley

27%

Clarence Valley

25%

Ballina

25%

Tweed Valley

25%

Kempsey

23%

Bellingen

23%

Kyogle

23%

Richmond Valley

22%

Coffs Harbour

21%

Lismore

18%

Byron

17%

 

Figure 4: North Coast population size relating to the Commonwealth’s vaccination program phases:

Phases

North Coast

Australia-wide

People

Region %

People

Region %

1a

20,663

4%

678,000

3%

1b

133,260

26%

6,139,000

24%

2a

179,515

35%

6,570,000

26%

2b

82,467

16%

6,643,000

26%

3

103,242

20%

5,670,000

22%

Media Interviews

Healthy North Coast can assist with coordinating media interviews this week with the following spokespeople.

  • Julie Sturgess, CEO, Healthy North Coast
  • Monika Wheeler, Executive Director, Healthy North Coast
  • Dr Brett Lynam, General Practitioner
  • Craig Wearne, CEO, Garden Village Port Macquarie
  • Garden Village resident and staff as part of the planned Wednesday 24/2 media event (as above).

Media Enquiries

  • For more information about the delivery of vaccines to frontline health workers, contact NSW Health.
  • All other media enquiries can be directed to Healthy North Coast’s Media Team.

Contact for media enquiries

Zoe Satherley (Mon-Wed)

Phone: 0428 623 093

Mike Hely (Wed-Fri)

Phone: 0437 978 473

Get our newsletter and events straight to your inbox. Subscribe Today

Our regional partners

  • Local Health District partners in our footprint: Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) & Northern New South Wales Local Health District (NNSWLHD)
  • Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS)
  • The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)
  • Rural Doctors Network (RDN)
  • Rural Clinical Schools & Regional Training Hubs
  • General Practitioners
  • Registrars and International Medical Graduates
  • North Coast Allied Health Association (NCAHA)
  • Local Councils
    Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA)
  • Universities including: Charles Sturt University (CSU), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Southern Cross University (SCU)

Aged Care Disaster Management Planning

Strategic Priority Area: One team

North Coast is identified as the region most likely to be impacted by climate change in Australia and also forecasted greatest growth in those 65+.

Healthy North Coast takes a lead role in ensuring the older population and the sector that supports them are prepared for, can respond to and recover from disasters and other emergencies.

We have led eight regional disaster management capacity building workshops, bringing together SES, community organisations and the aged care sector.

We have also developed disaster preparedness tip sheets for both residential and community aged care providers.

Voluntary Assisted Dying

Strategic Priority Area: One team

In May 2022, the NSW Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022. Effective from Tuesday, 28 November 2023, eligible people have the choice to access voluntary assisted dying. 

Healthy North Coast has developed a webpage for both health professionals and consumers, with links to available information and resources.

Living with Dementia resources

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

Healthy North Coast has worked with people living with dementia, their families and local service providers to develop an information booklet that will help them connect with local and national supports along their journey.

The booklet includes commonly asked questions for people to ask their GP and/or specialist.

The resource is available in digital and printed copies, with more than 5,000 distributed across the region. An e-version is available to clinicians via the Dementia and Cognitive Impairment HealthPathway.

Deteriorating Resident Triage Tool Pilot

Strategic Priority Area: One team

The Deteriorating Resident Response Tool (DRRT) has been developed to guide RN’s in Residential Aged Care homes (RACHs) to better understand, anticipate and make clinical decisions responding to the deteriorating health of residents.

The objective of the DRRT is to give RACH staff clear information to triage and provide appropriate care for a range of residents’ health conditions, and, in turn, prevent unnecessary presentations to ED.

The tool has been designed together with a specialist geriatrician, consulting with stakeholders such as Residential Aged Care Managers, NSW Ambulance, GPs, and experts from Mid and North Coast LHDs.

The pilot commences in March with four participating RACHs. Evaluation measures will include effectiveness in building RN confidence and reported reduction in unnecessary hospitalisations. Findings will inform a future planned, region-wide implementation.

North Coast Care Finders Program

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

The Care Finders program is a free region-wide service to support vulnerable older people who have no-one else to help them, to learn about, apply for and set up support services.

Care finders can help people understand what aged care services are available, set up an assessment, and find and choose services. They also help people with access to other supports in the community, both accessing services for the first time and changing or finding new services and supports.

On the North Coast, Healthy North Coast has commissioned four organisations to provide this important service: EACH, Carexcell, Lifetime Connect and Footprints.

icon with person and hands

Psychological services in residential aged care homes

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Healthy North Coast commissions two service providers to deliver psychological therapies and supports for older people with, or at risk of developing, a mental illness and who are living in residential aged care homes (RACHs).

The aim of the program is to both provide direct support to residents and their families and carers, as well as upskill the RACH workforce to respond to the needs of residents presenting with mental health concerns.

Social prescribing (Healthy Me Healthy Community)

Strategic Priority Area: Securing a Healthier Future

Delivered by Feros Care, the Healthy Me, Healthy Community program aims to build individual and community connections to reduce loneliness and improve wellbeing in Port Macquarie.

The program helps people to connect with community, activities, supports and services that address their broader social determinants of health, as an alternative or supplement to a clinical approach.

icon with person and hands

Digital Health in Residential Aged Care

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Timely access to primary health care professionals, whether through face-to-face consultation or telehealth, is recognised as an issue for many Residential Aged Care Homes (RACHs), that in some cases can lead to potentially preventable hospitalisations. RACHs require adequate telehealth facilities to support access to virtual consultations for their residents.

Project goals

  • Assist participating RACHs to have appropriate telehealth facilities and equipment to enable their residents to virtually consult when needed with their primary health care professionals, specialists and other clinicians. 
  • Provide training to participating RACH staff to support them to have the capabilities to assist their residents in accessing virtual consultation services.
  • Encourage increased use of My Health Record by RACHs, to improve the availability and secure transfer of resident’s health care information between RACHs, primary care and acute care settings.
icon with person and hands

Greater Choice at Home Palliative Care Program

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Aims to provide people who have life limiting conditions the opportunity to exercise choice and receive high quality care at home, harnessing improved and better coordinated supports and services that meet their individual needs.

Program objectives:

  • Improve access to palliative care at home and support end-of-life care systems and services (in primary health care and community care)
  • To enable the right care at the right time and in the right place (to reduce unnecessary hospitalisation)
  • Generate and use data to support continuous improvement of services across sectors
  • Use available technologies to support flexible and responsive palliative care at home, including in the after-hours.

These objectives will contribute to achieving the following intended overarching outcomes of:

  • Improved capacity and responsiveness of services to meet local needs and priorities
  • Improved patient access to quality palliative care services in the home
  • Improved coordination of care for patients across health care providers and integration of palliative care services in their region.

Education & training funding elibility

Funding is open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.

Workforce Locum support and R&R funding criteria

  • Available to primary care services in disaster impacted communities within the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Available to support short-term workforce coverage, allowing clinicians to rest and recover.
  • Workforce-support funding in total is capped for each site, over a 12-month period:
    • $10k for GPs and/or
    • $5K for nursing and/or
    • $5k administration support and/or
    • $5K allied/pharmacy and other.
  • Funding is not to be used to fill gaps in staffing that have not been able to recruit to and not to replace existing staff.
  • Healthy North Coast will assess requirements and approve available funding directly with the service requesting support.
  • Priority will be given to sites that have immediate, short-term workforce support needs.
  • Requests will be reviewed and supported on a case-by-case basis.
  • Program funding administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) to be paid monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever comes first).
  • Practices will be required to complete a request for payment form monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever occurs first).

Wellbeing Flexible Funding Criteria & Eligibility

  • Open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Activity must be purposeful, with the aim of increasing the wellbeing of your team.
  • Requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with funding allocated based on team size.*
  • Following approval by Healthy North Coast, funding will be administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) upon providing proof of expenses.
  • Funding cannot be used for the purchase of alcohol, or any other goods or services where the vendor cannot quote their Australian Business Number.
  • Planned activities must occur prior to 30th June 2024.
  • Funding will not be available for retrospective activities.
*Team Size
(Total staff and contractors)
Funding Available
Small (1-5)$500-$1500
Medium (6-20)$1500-$4000
Large (>20)$4000-$5000