Flu prevention with a compulsory vaccination program
Goodwin acknowledges the Turnbull Government’s introduction of a compulsory provision of vaccination programs to all staff in residential aged care as a positive step toward maximising protection for senior Australians ahead of this year’s flu season.
Health Minister Greg Hunt and Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt announced the Government will mandate flu vaccines for aged care workers and released results of a survey showing a significant link between increased staff immunisation and lower aged care influenza outbreaks.
Since 2014 Goodwin has met the Government requirement to have a program that provides flu vaccinations for employees and volunteers. In 2014-16 Goodwin had external health services providing vaccinations now in-house vaccinations are available.
“While Goodwin has been providing in-house vaccination for free for all staff since 2017 we continue to take the necessary steps towards reaching the target rate for immunisations at 95% for both staff and residents,” says Sue Levy, Goodwin CEO.
“To encourage high-levels of uptake of the Goodwin flu vaccine program, we have a comprehensive education campaign,” says Levy. “Already this year our Aged Care Nurse Practitioner has run seven education sessions at all employee meetings including those working in: community, corporate, residential aged care and day clubs. The education session covers, what the flu is, herd immunity, flu myths, what to do if you get the flu and more,” says Levy.
A key finding from government research was that organisations which provide in-house staff vaccination programs had higher coverage than those who only encouraged staff to go to an external immunisation provider.
“Goodwin has adopted the in-house provider model that Government research has found to be the most effective,” says Levy. “This commenced in 2017 with a significant commitment from Goodwin to train nurses as ‘fully qualified immunisers’ through the College of Nursing. Our commitment to pursuing higher levels of staff vaccination is evident in our six qualified nurse immunisers on staff and another five nurses who are currently enrolled in the course,” says Levy.
“In 2017 we offered more than 30 staff flu clinics. This year, flu clinics commenced at Goodwin on Tuesday 17 April 2018. So far, in 2018 we have conducted 6 clinics with 172 flu vaccines administered. Goodwin has another scheduled 12 clinics for 2018 in May and all new employee inductions for April and May are included in the flu clinic schedule. Additional clinics will be offered this year in June and July,” says Levy.
In line with the Governments recommendations Goodwin encourages all visitors to aged care facilities to have the flu vaccine. Goodwin also recognises the importance that the entire community does everything possible to contain and lower the risk of infections during the flu season particularly those visiting aged care homes.
Goodwin is following best practice in regards to encouraging visitors to have the flu vaccine.
“We will provide information sessions in May at our villages in Monash, Ainslie and Farrer for families, residents and staff with one of the topics ‘outbreak prevention and management,” says Levy.
“Basically if you have been in contact with someone who has a cold or flu and then develop symptoms you should not enter a residential aged care facility for at least 8 days,” says Tamra Macleod, Goodwin’s Aged Care Nurse Practitioner. “According to ACT Government Health information on the flu you may be contagious for a period of 8 days or longer (for those with weakened immune systems or children), from initial contact with the illness to last stages of the virus”, says Macleod.
“Goodwin has stringent infection control systems and processes in place that are measured against the Australian Aged Care Quality Standards,” say Macleod.
Goodwin will continue to encourage all staff to have their flu vaccination as Minister Wyatt says, “Vaccination is imperative for staff and residents in aged care, where the flu can spread quickly and have devastating consequences. Every one of us has a responsibility to reduce the chance of spreading the virus among some of our most vulnerable citizens.”