Stage 3 restrictions remain in place across Australia to stop the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions include a ‘stay at home’ order only permitting people to leave home to shop for food and other necessary goods and services, access medical services or provide caregiving, attend work or education where you can’t do those things from home, and exercise. In addition, gatherings have been limited to no more than 2 people, and social distancing practices have become commonplace in our everyday lives.
Under the current state government directives in NSW and Victoria, access to residential aged care facilities is limited to people who meet the following criteria:
- an employee or contractor of the home,
- a person who is providing goods, services or providing health, medical or pharmaceutical services,
- a person who is providing care and support visits,
- a person who is present for the purpose of end of life support for a resident, or
- any person who is required to be present on the premises for the purposes of emergency management or law enforcement.
Of those people who are eligible to enter residential aged care facilities, if any of the following applies to them, then the state government directives prohibit them from entering:
- during the 14 days immediately before the proposed entry, the person arrived in Australia from a place outside Australia,
- during the 14 days immediately before the proposed entry, the person had known contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19,
- the person has a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees or symptoms of acute respiratory infection,
- the person does not have an up-to-date vaccination against influenza, if the vaccination is available to the person, or
- the person is aged under 16 years (other than for the purposes of providing end-of-life support for a resident of the home).
Enabling the safe return of visitors
Australian Unity has had stronger restrictions in place at our homes, to continue to mitigate the risk of transmission from the community and to protect the health and wellbeing of all residents and employees.
While we must continue to be vigilant, thankfully the rate of transmission of COVID-19 has slowed in the community and we can now look to increase face to face access for visitors and return some services for residents from Monday, 4 May 2020.
From Friday, 1 May 2020, hairdressing services will recommence with the salon set up to facilitate social distancing. We know this service has been greatly missed by residents and will be warmly welcomed back.
To enable residents to meet with their loved ones, while ensuring residents are still able to move freely within their home, we will be implementing strict visitor guidelines. Our residences are home to many residents and as such, we need to carefully manage how many visitors are coming into the home at any one time to enable us to limit the risk of exposure to infection including COVID-19 as much as possible.
How visits will be different
In order for you to visit safely, you will need to meet certain screening requirements and we will need evidence of certain aspects.
To support safe access for visitors, we will initially be re-opening for visits on an appointment basis.
It is a government requirement that any person entering must have an up-to-date vaccination against influenza, unless medically exempt. We will require you bring proof that you have received the vaccination, or proof that you have a medical exemption, when you come to visit.
All visitors will also need to have their temperature taken on entry, will be asked about symptoms of acute respiratory infection, and will need to complete a visitor declaration form. This same process applies to all employees and contractors.
Under the state government directives, visits are limited to two people per resident per day and for a maximum of two hours. Visits must be held in the resident’s room, unless you have permission from us to access another area of the home. Visitors are also reminded to practice good hand hygiene and social distancing throughout their visit.
While we are very pleased to be able to offer limited visitation access, for the safety of all residents, we are still recommending that if you don’t absolutely have to visit, please consider whether this is the right time to do so. You’re encouraged to stay connected to residents in other ways. To support this, we’ve:
- increased the bandwidth for wifi,
- waived telephone call charges, and
- facilitated virtual visits via telephone or video calls.
We would like to thank you again for your ongoing support during this difficult time.