Aged care home introduces rapid COVID testing

A rapid antigen testing site at TLC. (Supplied) 253562_01

Visitors, staff and contractors at an Altona North aged care home will be required to under take a rapid COVID-19 antigen test under a new initiative.

TLC Healthcare introduced the rapid antigen testing program at its 11 residential aged homes across Melbourne and Geelong last month.

TLC said it is Australia’s first aged care provider to mandate such tests for every visitor, staff member and contractor that enters their homes.

Rapid antigen tests are a way of detecting COVID-19 that work by reacting to proteins on the surface of the virus called antigens.

Chief executive Lou Pascuzzi said the program has already proven to be effective.

“In the four weeks since mandating our rapid antigen testing program, two people have returned positive tests. They have subsequently taken PCR tests, and one was confirmed positive. The person returning the positive test was asymptomatic and not aware that they had contracted COVID-19,” he said.

“As vaccination rates increase, restrictions ease and contract tracing winds down, there is an increased likelihood that a person can be infected with COVID-19 and not know. This situation proves that rapid antigen testing is the most effective way to protect vulnerable aged care residents.

“As the community reopens, the three pillars of the TLC COVID-19 management strategy will be rapid antigen testing, vaccination, and infection-control protocols. Our approach to date has allowed TLC homes to welcome visitors for much of the pandemic; when it was safe to do so. This is despite 75 per cent of TLC’s locations being in Victoria’s COVID-19 hot-spot areas.

“Our COVID-19 management strategy has ensured that all TLC homes have been free of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. It has also allowed TLC to minimise lockdowns, promoting increased levels of safe access for family members to residents and a positive mental health influence on our residents and staff.”