Infection Control and Aged Care – the current state of play in Australia

Ramon Z Shaban1,2, Brett Mitchell3, Philip Russo4, Deborough Macbeth5, Cristina Sotomayor-Castillo1,2

1Faculty of Medicine and Health, Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery; Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, 2006.

2Directorate of Nursing, Midwifery and Clinical Governance, Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead. NSW, 2145.

3Lifestyle Research Centre, Avondale College for Higher Education, Wahroonga NSW 2076

4School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research – Alfred Health Partnership, Deakin University. 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125

5Department of Infection Control, Gold Coast University Hospital and Health Service. Gold Coast University Hospital. Southport QLD 4215



Individuals in residential and aged care facilities (RACFs) are at increased risk of developing health care-associated infections (HAIs) due to age-related changes in physiology, immunity, comorbid illness, functional disability and living near others, among other factors. The recent establishment of an Australian Royal Commission into the Quality of Residential and Aged Care Services highlights the challenges of providing care in this sector. This national study identified infection prevention and control (IPC) services, practice and priorities in Australian residential and aged care facilities.


A cross-sectional study of 158 Australian RACFs comprising a 42-question survey incorporating five key domains relating to infection prevention and control namely governance, education, practice, surveillance, competency and capability.


Of the 158 respondents, governance for IPC in Australian RACFs is underdeveloped, lacks formal structures and processes, with only 22.9% operating with a dedicated infection control committee.  92.4% of respondents reported having a document infection control program. The majority of RACFs reported lacking specialist, qualified experience infection control practitioners that (n=67). HAI surveillance was undertaken in 75.2% of respondents. The overwhelming majority of education provided or undertaken was in-service based, with the lack of practice and education resources identified as a high or moderately high priority by most respondents (n=111).


Australian RACFs are under -resourced across governance, education, practice, surveillance, competency and capability. Quality residential and aged care free from HAIs requires formal structure and organization strategies.

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