As Healthy North Coast rolls out the COVID-19 Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF) Outbreak GP Framework, we are being asked, “What will an outbreak be like? ”
If your RACF and GP team are ready — i.e. you have implemented the framework — the outbreak will look like this in the first few hours:
- A resident with COVID-19 symptoms will be swabbed using the Commonwealth-contracted agency Sonic Healthcare.
- The Public Health Unit (PHU) will notify and confirm with the RACF a positive resident — at this point the RACF is officially in an outbreak (1 case equals an outbreak).
- The resident’s GP will be phoned by the RACF or PHU. On receipt of this call, GPs are to notify the nominated RACF GP team leader.
- The GP team leader will notify Healthy North Coast’s key contacts. For a large outbreak, a locum will be sourced for on-site cover. For a small outbreak, the resident’s own GP will remain the point of contact. The GP on-call roster may be needed at this stage. A disaster strategy is outlined in the COVID-19 Residential Aged Care Facility Outbreak GP Framework.
- Meanwhile, the PHU will be leading testing and contact tracing.
- Potentially some RACF staff will need to self-isolate. Most RACFs have been cohorting staff with residents to mitigate close contact numbers.
- Surge workforces are being prepared in a range of ways. This remains one of the biggest challenges. Talk to your RACF to find out what preparations are in place.
- The RACF will mobilise their local outbreak team and the PHU will notify the state-level Outbreak Management Team. This team will include the Ministry of Health, Clinical Excellence Commission, LHD, PHU, etc. GP team leaders will participate in the local RACF outbreak team meetings.
For more steps in the outbreak pathway, refer to your local RACF’s outbreak plan.
What is important to know:
- The LHD infectious diseases physicians will provide clinical advice on the management of COVID-19 positive residents. Other clinical staff, e.g. nurse practitioners and clinical nurse consultants in specialist areas such as infection prevention and control, will be available.
- The joint protocol outlines local, state and Commonwealth responsibilities, indicating that residents with clinical needs will be transferred to hospital.
- A Commonwealth case manager is allocated to each outbreak and provides support to the RACF manager with PPE access, access to surge workforce, etc.
- GPs are pivotal in an outbreak to optimise resident health and mitigate deconditioning. GPs know the resident and can engage in clinical communication with families.
Click images to download documents
Learn more via HealthPathways:
For a list of all localised pathways see:
Mid and North Coast Localised Pathways