Residential aged care facilities are now required to appoint clinical staff members as IPC leads. But why has this change been brought in, and what does the Australian Government hope to achieve by enforcing it?
Why do we need IPC Leads in each aged care home?
By requiring all aged care homes to have an IPC lead, the Department of Health intends to enhance infection prevention and control competence around Australia’s entire aged care sector. This requirement is in direct response to outcomes in the Independent Review into the Newmarch House COVID-19 Outbreak and the COVID-19 Special Report by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in 2020. Both reports remarked on the urgent need for better governance in infection prevention and control in aged care.
The role of IPC Leads
An infection control lead (or IPC Lead) is an assigned nursing staff member who:
- Observes, assesses and reports on the IPC policies and processes of an aged care home
- Assists with establishing procedures and providing advice within the home
- Has a strong understanding of the Aged Quality Standards, particularly Standard 3 (3) (g) and Standards 8 (3) (d) and (e)
- Takes part in the continuous improvement activities regarding IPC.
Readiness is not preparedness
Once a RACF has reported to the Department of Health that their appointed IPC Lead has completed required training, a facility manager should be able to expect that their IPC Lead will:
- Be capable of providing advice and control as part of ongoing operations, including the resident mix, staff mix, services offered and environmental aspects of a facility
- Have the skills to develop and update IPC procedures to ensure they incorporate best practice and regulatory requirements
- Be able to check IPC practices within the home to verify where gaps may be present, and implement corrective measures and handle these issues within the aged care home.
But completing their training doesn’t necessarily mean that an IPC Lead will be ready for their role. They need the support of their facility manager, as well as resources for staff education and training, and the support of their peers to overcome common obstacles.
Residential aged care providers have responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) regarding the quality of care they provide. The IPC lead role is intended to support providers to meet these responsibilities as they relate to infection prevention and control. The IPC Lead may be supported by other staff and/or external consultants as a part of their IPC work program.https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/infection-prevention-and-control-leads
Preparing your IPC Lead for Success
With over twenty-five years in infection prevention and control, Bug Control knows what’s in store for newly minted Infection Control Leads. That’s why we’ve developed resources to support aged care managers and IPC leads, including:
- Access to resources such as the mini-audit tools, COVID-19 preparedness tools etc.
- Learning management platform, which includes toolbox talks, PowerPoint presentations and more
- Private email discussion group focused on issues within aged care
- The Bug Control IPC Lead Coaching Program
- Access to experienced IPC consultants for one-on-one consultations
We have also just started rolling out our IPC Lead coaching program, which is designed to encourage and support IPC Leads in Australian aged care facilities to better fulfill their role as IPC Leads. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can sign up here to get updates, and a free IPC Lead checklist. If you want to know more about how we can support your facility’s aged care program, please contact us.
- Department of Health: Infection Prevention and Control Leads
- Independent Review into the Newmarch House COVID-19 Outbreak
- COVID-19 Special Report by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
- Letter for approved providers from the Secretary of the Department of Health Regarding Infection Control Leads