October 2017

Infection control – Do you have it under control?

The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) reports there has been more than two and a half times the number of laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza reported this year when compared with the same period last year. Notification rates to date for this year have been highest in adults aged 80 years or older. (http://www.health.gov.au/flureport#current)

Effective infection control practices and processes are part of the protective factors that assist in preventing the spread of infectious diseases in aged care. This flu season has surpassed last year’s, and there has been a number of reported deaths in aged care from influenza outbreak.

Approved providers need to manage and respond to this known risk, and have systems and processes in place for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of their policies related to influenza and outbreak management.

What do infection control programs look like in aged care?

The Quality Agency assesses infection control practices against the Accreditation Standards, during accreditation and re-accreditation audits, and during compliance monitoring where a home’s performance, risk profile or regulatory intelligence identifies issues or concerns.

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt announced the Quality Agency will undertake a review of the infection control practice of aged care services.  The initiative will involve conducting a survey of infection control and related outbreak management practices through an assessment contact under s2.30 of the Quality Agency Principles 2013. The aim is to build a national picture of the management systems for infection control and outbreak management of specific infectious diseases.

Between October and November 2017, all residential aged care services will be required to participate in an assessment contact via an online survey tool which will be open for 14 days.

The survey tool was designed in consultation with the Office of Health Protection (Department of Health) and covers information about outbreak management and vaccination rates of residents and staff. This information will be used to assess the preparedness of services to respond to outbreaks of influenza and gastroenteritis.

This will enable the Quality Agency to gather information from all accredited services across Australia. It will inform the Quality Agency’s quality monitoring and ensure a focus on areas of the greatest risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of care recipients of services.

A summary report on infection control management practices will be based on data collected through all the assessment contacts conducted across Australia. The report will be provided to the Department of Health and will be published on the Quality Agency website.  

Queries about the process can be directed to national@aacqa.gov.au