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Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Government releases three-tiered visitor guidelines for aged care

The government has announced a three-tiered set of visitation guidelines for aged care providers that hinges on the COVID-19 threat level in the community.

The plan was backed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

It spells out the ways in which providers can ramp up or scale down their response to community COVID-19 transmission or locally acquired cases as needed.

Where there are no such reports (Tier 1), the government advises fewer restrictions on visitors, excursions, small gatherings and outdoor exercise.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said the restrictions that remained were common sense measures.

“In all areas, even in those places where there isn’t any local transmission, the AHPPC recommends restricting people who have just returned from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed case, people who are sick, those who require isolation or quarantine and people who haven’t had the flu jab,” Colbeck said.

“Visitors will also need to maintain personal hygiene, and social distance. By taking these basic precautions, we keep senior Australians in aged care physically safe while they spend time with their family, friends and loved ones, or receive care from doctors or allied health workers.”

The guidelines also spell out steps providers can take when they are in a defined hotspot with localised outbreaks of cases (Tier 2) and when there is an outbreak of the virus in the community (Tier 3).

Colbeck said the government and the AHPPC agreed that residents “must be protected in the least restrictive manner and their health needs must be balanced with their personal wellbeing and human rights”.

Following a public back and forth between providers and the government over the issue of visitation restrictions, peak bodies and consumer groups in May released an industry code on the matter.

It aimed to give “a nationally consistent approach that ensures residents can receive visitors while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19”.

The fifth and latest version of that code was updated to include the three-tiered system.

In conjunction with the new visitation guidelines, it offers clarity for residents and families, Colbeck said.

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