Reopening and Reconnecting: Planning for COVID-Normal in Aged Care

With vaccination rates steadily climbing across the country, governments are announcing their plans for a long-awaited reopening and shift to COVID-normal. Opening up provides opportunity for people to reconnect and rebuild, but it also brings risk to our health and wellbeing that must be planned for.

COVID-19 has separated many older people from family and loved ones for a long time. They have lived with the looming threat of the virus for more than 18 months. Their physical and mental wellbeing has been affected. One goal of COVID-normal must be to support older people to reconnect with family, friends and to safely participate in community life if they want to.

For aged care providers, this means opening up to visitors and community, while continuing to balance the risks of a potential outbreak. They must consider risk management strategies, like vaccinations testing, ventilation and limits on numbers of visitors.

But so far the Commonwealth Government’s plans for COVID-normal in aged care are unclear. Anglicare Australia members report receiving different advice from different levels of government or local health services.

A clear plan, supporting a safe reopening, would help reassure residents and their families, and provide certainty and guidance to aged care providers. This paper calls on the government to act in five key areas.