Aged care

Advice for visitors to aged care facilities

The outbreak of any virus in an aged care facility can have serious consequences.

We also know that COVID-19 is a particular health risk for older people in our community.

To assist in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, the National Cabinet has accepted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advice to restrict visitation in all Aged Care Facilities. This is a measure that is designed to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

This means that from 5.00pm on 23 March 2020, until the conclusion of the declared public health emergency, a person must not enter, or remain on, the premises of a residential aged care facility in the ACT unless:

  • the person is an employee or contractor of the residential aged care facility; or
  • the person's presence at the premises is for the purposes of providing goods or services that are necessary for the effective operation of the residential aged care facility, whether the goods or services are provided for consideration or on a voluntary basis; or
  • the person's presence at the premises is for the purposes of providing health, medical or pharmaceutical goods or services to a resident of the residential aged care facility, whether the goods or services are provided for consideration or on a voluntary basis; or
  • the person's presence at the premises is for the purposes of a care and support visit to a resident of the residential aged care facility on a particular day, and is the only care and support visit made to the resident on that day; or
  • the person's presence at the premises is for the purposes of end of life support for a resident of the residential aged care facility; or
  • the person's presence at the premises is required for the purposes of emergency management or law enforcement; or
  • the person's presence at the premises is in the person's capacity as a prospective resident of the residential aged care facility.

Do not visit aged care facilities if you have:

  • returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • have a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees or symptoms of a respiratory infection such as a cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath

From 1 May 2020 you must have had your influenza (flu) vaccination to visit an aged care facility.

Please note that young people under 16 years of age will only be permitted in an aged care facility for compassionate reasons for the purposes of visiting someone at end of life.

No school or childcare groups of any size are allowed to visit residential aged care facilities.

This applies to anyone visiting or working at an aged care facility.

Advice for family and friends

If you visit an aged care facility, you need to reduce the risk of transmission by:

  • following the restrictions outlined above - only one visit per day, with no more than two people, for no longer than two hours
  • following any other restrictions the aged care facility puts in place to keep their residents safe
  • keeping your visit in a resident’s room, outdoors, or a specific area that the facility has designated for visits. Keep out of communal areas where risk of transmission is greater
  • Practice social distancing - maintain a distance of 1.5 metres

If you cannot visit your family and friends in a residential aged care facility, it’s important to keep in touch. Make phone or video calls, send postcards, photos or artwork or film short videos to share.

More information is available in the national factsheet Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for families and residents on restricted visits to residential aged care facilities.

Advice for aged care facilities

Residential aged care facilities in the ACT should ensure that they have a robust infection control program in place to prevent and control the transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in facilities.

Facilities are urged to have procedures in place should a case or outbreak of COVID-19 be detected among their staff and/or residents.

Aged care facilities must take all reasonable steps to ensure that people who are prohibited from entering do not enter or remain on the premises.

Aged care facilities should implement the following measures for restricting visits and visitors to reduce the risk of transmission to residents, including:

  • Limiting visits to 2 hours;
  • Limiting visits to a maximum of two people, once per day – this includes family, friends, professional service staff, or advocacy staff
  • Visits should be conducted in a resident’s room, outdoors, or in a specific area designated by the aged care facility, rather than communal areas where the risk of transmission to residents is greater;
  • No large group visits or gatherings, including social activities or entertainment, should be permitted at this time;

Visitors should also be encouraged to practise social distancing practices where possible, including maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres.

Measures such as phone or video calls must be accessible to all residents to enable more regular communication with family members. Family and friends should be encouraged to maintain contact with residents by phone and other social communication apps, as appropriate.

Managers of aged care facilities can find more information about preparing for a COVID-19 outbreak on the Chief Health Officer alerts page and in the interim national COVID-19 guidelines for outbreaks in residential care facilities.

More information

For more information, see:

FAQs for aged care facilities

Who can visit as a part of a care and support visit?

  • family members or close friends of a resident
  • professional service providers such as solicitors
  • advocacy support such as religious counsel

Can I still visit my friend or family member who is a resident of an ACT aged care facility?

Yes. Your visit qualifies under a care and support visit. However, you must comply with the restrictions.

Can a religious adviser, such as a priest or imam, visit a resident of an ACT aged care facility?

Yes. This visit qualifies under a care and support visit. However, the religious adviser needs to comply with the restrictions.

Can our family’s solicitor attend in order to arrange a will and/or enduring Power of Attorney?

Yes. This visit qualifies under a care and support visit. However, the solicitor needs to comply with the restrictions.

I am a staff member or a contractor for an aged care facility. Can I go to work?

If you are a staff member and have recently travelled overseas, you should be aware that the Australian Government has strict quarantine requirements in place for people entering Australia from overseas.

Do not visit aged care facilities if you:

  • Have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • Have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 day.
  • Have a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees or symptoms of a respiratory infection such as a cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath
  • Have not been vaccinated against influenza (after 1 May 2020)
  • Are 16 years old or younger, other than for compassionate reasons for the purposes of visiting someone at end of life.

If you are unsure, talk to your workplace about work arrangements.

Anyone entering Australia from any overseas country must self-quarantine at home for 14 days from the date they left an overseas country, and closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

For more information, please see our Travellers page.

If you are quarantined at home, please see our Quarantine page and our Getting Tested page.

How can staff help prevent the spread of the virus?

Staff should not attend work if they are unwell, even with very mild symptoms.

Practising good hand hygiene, respiratory/cough etiquette, and general hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus.

Information about quarantining, self-isolation, personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning when there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within an aged care facility can be found in the interim national COVID-19 guidelines for outbreaks in residential care facilities.

If care and support visitors are on the premises, make sure the restrictions outlined above are follows. No more than two people at any one time, once per day. The visit should be in the resident’s room and not in communal areas.

What are the penalties if I do not comply with these quarantine measures?

If someone does not comply with the restrictions (without a reasonable excuse), then penalties will apply.

The maximum penalties are:

  • In the case of a natural person, $8,000 (50 penalty units)
  • In the case of a body corporate, $40,500 (50 penalty units)
  • In the case of a utility that is a body corporate $1,620,000 (2000 penalty units)

More information

For more information, please see:

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: April 07 2020