Glenfield aged care home implements rapid COVID-19 testing

The rapid tests can provide results in less than 10 minutes, however, they do not replace the standard diagnostic tests conducted by official COVID-19 clinics. Picture: Whiddon
The rapid tests can provide results in less than 10 minutes, however, they do not replace the standard diagnostic tests conducted by official COVID-19 clinics. Picture: Whiddon

Staff at Glenfield's Whiddon Easton Park aged care facility will now have access rapid COVID-19 testing to further protect residents and employees against the virus.

The rapid antigen tests are on-the-spot screening tests that detect antigens, or proteins, found on the surface of the virus, and deliver a positive or negative result in just ten minutes.

Whiddon chief executive Chris Mamarelis said the initiative was industry leading for aged care in Australia.

He said the testing added a very important layer of increased protection for residents and staff against COVID-19, while community transmission rates remained high.

However, Mr Mamarelis said the rapid tests, approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, would not replace the standard diagnostic tests conducted by official COVID-19 testing clinics.

"Whiddon Easton Park has a large number of residents and employees and is located close to several COVID-19 hotspot areas, with many employees living within these areas," he said.

"It is vital that we do all that we can to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities and the people caring for them, especially when we are seeing such high rates of community transmission with the Delta variant.

"In symptomatic people, the tests have a published sensitivity rate of around 94 per cent and above 99 per cent in specificity. In asymptomatic people, the sensitivity rate is between 50 and 60 per cent and the specificity is over 99 per cent in adults."

Mr Mamarelis said Whiddon employees have been trained to administer the tests themselves, under the supervision of an AHPRA health care practitioner such as a registered nurse, and should a positive result be detected, the employee must then take a standard diagnostic test in line with NSW Government advice.

"Research has shown that the frequency of the testing is the most important factor in controlling the spread of infection," he said.

"Employees will be encouraged to test each time they come to work for a period of 14 days at this stage while community transmission remains high.

"Research has also shown that when used in high-risk industries, rapid testing reduces the risk of the virus spreading and is highly effective when a person is in their most infectious period.

"Rapid testing, complemented by our strict screening processes, robust COVID-19 protocols and initiatives to vaccinate employees as quickly as possible, including through an in-reach clinic this week, will help ensure residents and employees stay safe.

"We know this is a very difficult time for everyone. Providing rapid testing gives peace of mind to residents, employees and families at Easton Park and we are proud to be able to implement this industry leading initiative to help keep everyone in our Whiddon family safe."

All Whiddon employees living in the Fairfield local government area will still need to undergo regular PCR COVID testing every three days as per the NSW Health directive.

More than 800 employees are providing care for approximately 500 aged care residents at Whiddon Eastern Park, in addition to its co-located retirement living community.

This story Glenfield aged care home implements rapid COVID-19 testing first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.