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Aged Care residences – COVID-19 updates

There is a lot of work being done across our Aged Care residences to ensure we are taking all necessary precautions and putting plans in place to maintain our residents, their loved ones and our employee’s wellbeing. 

We acknowledge how important maintaining connection is to everyone's wellbeing and we are doing as much as possible to limit the disruption to usual routines for our residents, whilst enhancing their level of protection.

Please continue to monitor this site for changes to our residences.

Important updates

We’re introducing a range of initiatives to enable visits in a COVIDsafe way in person and virtually. This allows for better connection between residents and their loved ones. 

As physical distancing measures are required across all our homes, the total number of visitors, visiting hours and length of visit are limited, so bookings are essential.

Visits will be limited to one hour each day.   For visits that are necessary for a longer period, more frequently or for special care and compassionate reasons, please reach out to the home directly.

On arrival to the home, you’ll be asked to complete a COVID-19 Screening Form and have your temperature taken, which must be lower than 37.5 degrees to be permitted entry. 
We ask that your visits take place within your loved ones’ room. Please move directly to the room and do not visit any communal spaces – this includes dining rooms, activity areas, chapels etc. 

To keep your loved ones safe and mitigate any risk on site, we still ask that you limit your visits to the facility during this time and use technology instead for virtual visits where possible.

Please call ahead if you are travelling interstate to visit one of our homes to check you can enter, as some extra interstate visitor restrictions apply to aged care facilities;
We acknowledge that this is a very difficult time for many people and we will continue to support all residents and families during this challenging time. There are certain differences between each state, so please refer to your specific state below for directions. 

NSW

Any visitors who have been in Victoria or any NSW COVID-19 hotspots in the previous 14 days will be excluded from entering the facility.
Two people are permitted to visit at a time;

Children under the age of 16 years are now able to visit residential aged care facilities however, they must have a 2020 influenza vaccination before entering a site.  

Victoria

All visitors must wear a surgical mask  which will be provided.

Visitors under the age of 16 are not permitted, unless they are visiting for the purpose of end of life support for a resident.

Only 1 person permitted to visit at a time (exception for end of life support where 2 visitors are permitted at a time).

How to book a physical visit

Physical visits will be by appointment only through an online booking system. This will allow you to book in visits up to 2 weeks in advance to provide more flexibility.

To book an appointment please click below:


It is essential that you pre-book each visit at least 48 hours beforehand.

 

How to book a virtual visit

To arrange a virtual visit:

  • Contact the home to arrange a time that is convenient for you.
  • Nominate your preference (phone or video) so we can set up the appropriate device for your loved one.
  • Provide your contact details so we can get in touch if there are any issues.

If you would like a facilitated call with your loved one, please contact the home to arrange a time when our team can assist you to visit virtually.

 

 
As case numbers of community transmission reduce throughout Victoria and New South Wales, we’re planning our journey towards a ‘COVID normal’ for all of our homes’ residents and representatives, family and friends.

Throughout the pandemic we have held the health and safety of residents at the centre of everything we do. This has included requesting that in-person visitation occur less frequently, and focusing on virtual visits.

We appreciate the support that representatives and residents’ loved ones have shown us during this time. These restrictions allowed our homes to remain as normal as possible for residents, and minimise the risk of transmission.

We’ll soon be introducing a range of initiatives to increase visits between residents and their loved ones in a COVIDSafe way. This will be for both in-person visits as well as virtual visits.

As always, exceptions may be made for loved ones of residents with special needs (for example, complex dementia) and those who are receiving end of life care (palliating). These visits will be approved by the General Manager prior to entry, and additional infection control precautions may need to be taken.

We continue to encourage virtual visiting as the most COVIDSafe way to connect.

Campbell Place

Campbell Place has completed its 14-day period of 'active surveillance', which was implemented in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Health and Human Services' Public Health Unit. This means we can declare Campbell Place no longer has 'outbreak' status. While we’re no longer required to apply the heightened controls associated with an outbreak, we still remain, along with the rest of metropolitan Melbourne, under the Victorian Government's Stage 4 restrictions. This means that, among other measures, entry to the home remains limited to those with a direct connection to essential service delivery. As always, exceptions may be made for loved ones of residents with special needs (for example, complex dementia) and those receiving end-of-life care (palliating). These visits will be approved by the General Manager prior to entry, and additional infection control precautions may be required (for example, use of PPE).

Rathdowne Place

Rathdowne Place has now completed its 14-day period of 'active surveillance', which had been in place in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Health and Human Services' Public Health Unit. This means we're now able to declare Rathdowne Place is out of 'outbreak' status.While we're no longer required to apply the heightened controls associated with an outbreak, we still remain, along with the rest of metropolitan Melbourne, under the Victorian Government's Stage 4 restrictions. This means, among other measures, entry to the home remains limited to those with a direct connection to essential service delivery. As always, exceptions may be made for loved ones of residents with special needs (for example, complex dementia) and those who are receiving end of life care (palliating) - these visits will be approved by the General Manager prior to entry, and additional infection control precautions may need to be taken (for example, use of PPE).

Campbell Place

We're now halfway through our 14-day 'active surveillance' period at Campbell Place, under the direction of the Public Health Unit. Although heightened measures remain in place, life at Campbell Place is slowly returning to near-normal for our residents. Employees continue to follow our entry and exit program - including temperature checking and symptom screening. They're also all wearing face masks and face shields or eye goggles, while maintaining appropriate infection prevention and control precautions.

Australian Unity is committed to regularly updating our aged care residents, families, friends and the community about how we’re doing our utmost to protect residents and employees against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Campbell Place 

The COVID-19 outbreak declared at Campbell Place thankfully did not directly impact any residents. The two impacted employees are safely quarantining at home with regular contact and supports from us. From 10 August 2020, the home started a 14-day period of ‘active surveillance’ in accordance with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services’ Public Health Unit’s requirements. During this time, heightened restrictions, including those applying to visitors, will be maintained. However, residents are being encouraged to enjoy activities and meals within their household, while maintaining physical distancing and using a face mask if they choose to do so. 

Rathdowne Place

We are now over halfway through the 14-day ‘active surveillance’ period at Rathdowne Place. There are no active resident cases of COVID-19 and only one remaining active employee cases, which we understand was acquired as a close contact in the community, not at Rathdowne Place. That employee also remains safely in quarantine at home with our support.

Rathdowne Place Aged Care

As of 6 August 2020, we have six employees and one resident connected to Rathdowne Place who have returned a positive result for COVID-19. All positive team members and their close contacts have completed or are currently completing their period of quarantine/self-isolation at home with our support and under the direction of the Public Health Unit. With respect to the positive resident, since their first positive result, this resident subsequently tested negative to COVID-19 four times (including twice while in hospital after being initially being transferred as a precaution)—they have now been cleared from isolation. 

At this stage, we're not aware of any clear link between these cases and it's highly possible the employee cases were all community acquired. Regular testing occurred on site at Rathdowne Place following notification of the first positive case to us, to ensure there wasn't any subsequent transmission within the home. Following the most recent round of repeat testing last week, we were advised of negative test results for all employees and residents. The PHU then confirmed that the ‘outbreak’ at Rathdowne Place has been stood down to a further period of ‘active surveillance’ for 14 days. Visitor restrictions remain in place and all employees are continuing to wear full PPE and are following appropriate infection prevention and control precautions.

Campbell Place Aged Care

At Campbell Place, we have two employees who have returned a positive result for COVID-19. A full round of precautionary/surveillance testing for Campbell Place employees and residents took place last week and all returned negative for COVID-19. A further round of testing will be completed this week. Again, there is no evidence that transmission of COVID-19 to these employees occurred within the home.

All residents and employees, along with resident representatives, have been kept informed of the situation at Rathdowne Place and Campbell Place through regular written communications, outbound phone calls and via our dedicated hotline.

Australian Unity was informed yesterday that an employee who last worked at Campbell Place Aged Care on Thursday, 23 July 2020 has tested positive for COVID-19. The affected employee was not showing any symptoms when they were last at work and they still don’t have any symptoms - they are now isolating at home and we are supporting them as needed.

All residents and employees, along with resident representatives and treating GPs, were informed of the situation yesterday and we will keep them well advised regarding next steps. All employees and all residents who can be will be tested this week for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure.

We continue to closely monitor the health of our residents - no residents or other employees at Campbell Place are currently displaying any COVID-19 symptoms.

We are doing everything possible to prevent the spread of this virus in our home. A deep clean was completed today and infection prevention and control measures are in place, including the implementation of full PPE throughout the home. Existing processes to screen and temperature check all employees and anyone else entering the home also remain in place.

What we're doing

The situation in Victoria understandably makes many of us feel concerned about how the coronavirus may impact on our families or loved ones. 

As media coverage about the impact of coronavirus on aged care homes has increased over the last few days, we’ve received several enquiries from residents and families about what we’re doing at our homes, and more broadly within Australian Unity, to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of residents and employees. To keep everyone informed and as up to date as possible, we’ve pulled together some frequently asked questions for your reference.

These are unprecedented times, and we deeply appreciate your ongoing support and patience.

Following community testing, an employee at our Rathdowne Place Aged Care home notified Australian Unity of a positive COVID-19 result last Thursday, 9 July 2020. Subsequently, over 200 of our employees and a number of residents were tested over the weekend. We were informed yesterday, 13 July 2020, that two further employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

None of the three employees were showing symptoms when they were last at work and they are now isolating at home with our support. Their close contacts are being managed in accordance with the Department of Health and Human Services' Public Health Unit's requirements.

All residents and employees, along with resident representatives, have been kept well advised of the situation. Remaining residents at the home will be tested—commencing this afternoon—as a precautionary measure.

We are following standard precaution infection control protocols, undertaking a deep clean of the home and using personal protective equipment as directed by the Public Health Unit.

The health, safety and wellbeing of our customers and our people remains our highest priority. We will continue to engage with health and other regulatory authorities as needed in relation to the management of this matter.

Victorian Residences

Due to increasing COVID-19 cases in Victoria, and the reinstated ‘Stage 3 Stay at Home’ restrictions announced by Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday afternoon, we will be temporarily restricting visitors from entering our Victorian homes unless they have a direct connection to essential service delivery. This temporary closure will commence at 11.59pm on Wednesday 8 July 2020 and will be reviewed in line with the community restrictions on Wednesday 19 August 2020.

As always, exceptions may be made for loved ones of residents with special needs (for example, complex dementia) and those who are receiving end of life care (palliating). These visits will be approved by the General Manager prior to entry, and additional infection control precautions may need to be taken.

The threat of COVID-19 remains very high to vulnerable people in the community, and by keeping visitors who enter the home to a minimum, we believe we’re able to provide the safest possible environment for our residents and the staff who care for them.

We understand this decision may be difficult and upsetting. Please be assured Australian Unity has made a considered assessment regarding the risk to our homes located in the Melbourne metropolitan region and we have decided this is the safest approach to take at this time.

We also ask that residents refrain from leaving the home during this time unless it is absolutely necessary (for example, for medical treatment that cannot be provided within the home).

We are seeking your support to ensure the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is minimised in our home. The steps above will allow residents within the home to continue to live their lives as normally as possible.

Thank you to our residents and families who have expressed their support and those who have already reconsidered their visits as the Melbourne area experiences a spike in positive cases.

Keep visiting, virtually

We encourage residents and families to stay connected via virtual visits, either by telephone or video calls. If you would like to arrange a facilitated call, please contact us at site to arrange a time.

Thank you again for your continued support and understanding.

 

Victorian Residences

Australian Unity has had stringent infection control procedures and restrictions in place at our aged care homes to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. As indicated in yesterday’s communication, we will be restricting visits by people who live, work, visit (for example, for care or caregiving) or have children attending schools in the ‘hot spot’ suburbs. We will be updating our pre-entry screening questions (visitor declaration) to cover these matters.

You can expect to see changes to the way visitor appointments are made and non-essential services such as hairdressers and beauticians will also close temporarily. These changes will commence at midnight tonight and will be reviewed in two weeks’ time.

The recent increases in community transmissions of COVID-19 in Victoria represents a significant risk to vulnerable, older people. For the safety of all residents and our employees, regardless of where you reside, we strongly urge you to consider whether this is the right time to visit your loved one in person. We strongly encourage you to stay connected in other ways. We are continuing to waive telephone call charges and are facilitating virtual visits via telephone and video calls, including via CheckedIn Care.

We understand this decision may be upsetting, and sincerely thank you for your continued support to manage these risk factors.

Victorian Residences

We’re currently experiencing a higher number of active cases in Victoria than we’ve seen in more than two months. We can’t ease up on looking after ourselves and our families. Whatever you do and wherever you go, please be mindful of the risks of either acquiring or inadvertently transmitting this virus. Be aware that others may be carrying the virus and always practice physical distancing around anyone outside of your immediate household.

We’re asking all residents to reconsider if it’s necessary to leave the home at this time. Where possible, we strongly recommend that any movement into the community be limited to accessing essential services such as seeing a medical practitioner. Current evidence suggests that the rise in case numbers in Victoria is primarily being driven by families having get-togethers at home and likely not following advice around physical distancing (ie no hugging or kissing) and hygiene (ie not hand washing as often as necessary and sharing items that other people have touched). These are important messages, considering there is still community transmission occurring.

We request that families and loved ones of our residents consider whether visiting the home at this time is necessary, or whether it could be delayed for the time being. You’re encouraged to stay connected with your loved one's in other ways through virtual visits via telephone or video calls, with telephone call charges still waived.

This is particularly relevant for any potential visitors who reside in the identified Victorian ‘hot spot’ suburbs of Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.

We also wanted to let you know in advance that Australian Unity’s position is that if the Victorian Chief Health Officer puts a ‘stay at home’ direction in place for any specific suburb or local government area, then we intend to restrict entry by visitors from those suburbs into the home. This is to provide the best possible protection for our vulnerable residents.

NSW Residences

As you may be aware, Victoria is currently experiencing a higher number of active cases than has been seen in more than two months. As a result, on 25 June 2020, the Chief Health Officer NSW, Dr Kerry Chant, advised that until further notice, employees and visitors who have travelled to Melbourne in the previous 14 days are to be denied entry into any aged care facility in New South Wales. We have updated our visitor and employee declaration to reflect this new requirement.

Access restrictions to aged care facilities in NSW have also been eased and there is no longer a requirement to exclude children under 16 years of age from visiting.

Influenza vaccination continues to be required for all visitors and employees.  For those who are exempt from vaccination, there is now a requirement for a specific certificate to be provided. Exemption certificates provided to date are not required to be reissued in the new format.

Stay safe

In line with the government’s public health messaging, this is a reminder of how each and every one of us can help:

  • Stay safe while out in the community.
  • Stay safe at home. And that means only seeing those you need to. Don’t have big family gatherings and remember to keep your distance and maintain good hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • If you, or anyone in your family is feeling unwell – stay at home.
  • If anyone in your family has any of the symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, they should stay at home, seek advice and get tested.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together.

While government directives restricting access to Residential Aged Care homes remain in place, during May we welcomed 5,012 visitors into our homes. We’re grateful for your cooperation as we work to provide everyone an opportunity to visit their loved ones while still maintaining appropriate infection control measures to protect the health and wellbeing of all residents and employees.

We are screening all visitors and employees through temperature and symptom checking, and entry declarations. Working within these restrictions we will continue to increase the availability of visitor appointments. Please contact us to book a time and talk to us about the new times available.

Visits must occur within a resident’s room and are limited to two visitors during any appointment for a maximum visit of two hours. We are engaging with residents and their families to provide tailored arrangements at times of care, comfort and special needs.

It is a government requirement that any person entering an aged care home must have an up-to-date vaccination against influenza, unless medically exempt. We require you to bring proof that you have received the vaccination, or proof that you have a medical exemption when visiting for the first time and a copy will be securely retained by us.

As restrictions ease and the community begins spending more time at shopping centres, cafes, in small gatherings at home and enjoying the return of footy, there is an increasing desire to leave our home for excursions. Until a vaccine is readily available, older Australians remain highly vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 and we are still recommending that if you don’t absolutely have to leave the home, please consider whether this is the right time to do so.  If leaving our home for any reason, we remind everyone of what you can do to stay safe. This includes: 

  • covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze with your elbow or a tissue  
  • disposing of tissues immediately after they are used, into a dedicated waste bin and washing your hands  
  • frequently practising hand hygiene 
  • avoiding touching your face and eyes  
  • using alcohol-based hand rub (sanitiser), where available  
  • where possible, staying 1.5 metres away from other people  
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others 
  • downloading the COVIDSafe app to assist with tracking and tracing 

In addition, we have masks available to residents who are engaging in activities outside of our home and would encourage their use particularly if visiting places where social distancing will be difficult to maintain or where in contact with children or groups of unfamiliar people. For all residents who leave our home, we will initiate 72 hours of temperature monitoring on their return. 

We will review our current visitor restrictions on 30 June, in line with State Government directives.

Thank you to the many representatives, families and friends who have expressed support for our visitor program. Your support, whether it be by staying away or following our current visitor guidelines, is greatly appreciated.

While the easing of community restrictions has now commenced, we must remain vigilant as increased public movement means an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 to visitors, residents and our employees.

Continued suppression of COVID-19 is about collective action. Success depends on maintaining our new community norms – physical distancing, good hygiene practices and downloading the COVIDSafe app to keep us all safe while we’re out and about.

Please be mindful that while we’re working hard to provide visitation access via appointments, for the safety of all residents and our employees, we are still recommending that if you don’t absolutely have to visit, consider whether this is the right time to do so.

We also strongly recommend that residents remain on site, except when they’re attending essential medical appointments. Residents leaving our home and mingling in the community means they are exposed to a greater risk of transmission and, in turn, they create an increased risk to other residents and our employees.

If it’s necessary for a resident to leave and go out into the community, we’re asking that an acknowledgment form be completed by the resident or their representative and that names and phone numbers of anyone the resident comes into contact with be retained. This will assist with any COVID-19 contact tracing, should that be required by the state government Public Health Unit.

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.

You may have seen the Prime Minister’s address on Tuesday 21 April 2020, in which he discussed current state government restrictions on visitors to aged care facilities.  

Australian Unity has heightened our restrictions to ensure the protection of all residents and employees at each of our homes. We will be maintaining the current visitor restrictions until at least 4 May 2020.  

The threat of COVID-19 remains very high to vulnerable people in the community, and by keeping visitors who enter the home to a minimum, we believe we’re able to provide the safest possible environment for residents and our employees who care for them. 

During the heightened restrictions, daily routines are being maintained and residents can move freely throughout the home without having to manage risks associated with having visitors present who may be strangers to our residents. For many of our residents who have cognition issues, their ability to practice social distancing poses a particular risk. If visitors are provided access into all areas of the home (which would be the case if they need to walk through the home to get to a particular resident’s room), it reduces this ability for free movement.

While we’re currently preparing and putting in place additional protocols to enable us to roll back our restrictions and allow the safe return of visitors to our homes, we don’t believe we can do that just yet. In the meantime, you’re encouraged to stay connected to your loved one in other ways. We’ve waived telephone call charges and are continuing facilitate virtual visits via telephone or video calls, including via our new app, CheckedIn Care. 

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the national peak body representing a significant number of aged care providers including Australian Unity, continues to advocate for a precautionary approach to visitor restrictions in residential aged care, on a home-by-home basis, with the protection of residents and staff from COVID-19 a critical priority. Click here to read more.

The vulnerability of residents in aged care to COVID-19 remains high despite the positive impact that Level 3 restrictions and social distancing has had on COVID-19 transmissions within Australia.

Australian Unity believes it is essential that we continue to maintain heightened restrictions until at least 4 May 2020 to ensure the continued protection of residents and employees.

A key element of our Better Together philosophy is connection. To support connectedness between you and your loved one during this time, we have waived telephone call charges since 1 March 2020. We are pleased to also be introducing two new initiatives: virtual visits through the CheckedIn Care app and the Better Together challenge.

For more information on Better Together challenge view the ‘How you can help our residents stay connected’ tab.

The risk of exposure to COVID-19 remains extremely high for our residents. For that reason, we have made the decision to maintain the current Australian Unity visitor restrictions for a further 14 days, until at least 20 April 2020.

These heightened restrictions were originally put in place based on representative feedback and to reduce the known risk of community transmission. We understand the implications of this decision, and the ongoing distress this may cause, however we must continue to do all we can to protect residents, as well as our employees.

Despite the restrictions, we do welcome families dropping Easter cards, gifts and eggs to our teams at Reception and we will ensure their timely delivery to residents.

We also encourage exploring other methods of maintaining connection with your loved ones. To better enable this, we are waiving telephone charges, backdated to 1 March 2020, to support residents to communicate with family and friends more frequently. Families have been utilising phone calls, Skype or Facetime, letters, postcards or pictures.

Our team are facilitating these activities, which have so far been very much enjoyed by everyone.

In the last week, residents across our homes have celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, enjoyed a pen pal program with some local kindergartens and were treated to some special meals. We will continue to share photographs of these special events with families.

Based on feedback we have received, and the heightened community restrictions announced by both the Australian and State Governments over the weekend we will now be restricting all visitors from entering our Aged Care sites unless they have a direct connection to essential service delivery.

These restrictions will commence at 8pm on Monday 23 March and will be reviewed in two weeks’ time.

Exceptions may be made for loved ones of those residents with special needs (i.e. complex dementia) and those who are palliating.

Residents within the home will continue to live their lives as normally as possible. However, non-essential services such as cafés, hairdressers and beauticians will also close temporarily, and lifestyle activities will be revised to smaller group or one-to-one activities to allow for appropriate social distancing.

We understand this decision will be very difficult and upsetting for our residents and their loved ones. However, due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the community, we need to take all possible measures to protect those who are most vulnerable.

Victorian Government

You may have seen the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew’s announcement yesterday afternoon, which announced from 11.59pm tonight, Wednesday 1 July 2020, postcodes identified as ‘hot zones’ will be required to return to Stage 3 ‘stay at home’ restrictions until at least 29 July 2020.

The following suburbs have stay at home restrictions from midnight:

  • 3012: Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray
  • 3021: Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans
  • 3032: Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore
  • 3038: Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lakes, Watergardens
  • 3042: Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie
  • 3046: Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park
  • 3047: Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana
  • 3055: Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West
  • 3060: Fawkner
  • 3064: Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickelham, Roxburgh Park, Kalkallo

These restrictions only permit people to leave home for four reasons; to shop for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and study or work – if you can’t do it from home.

On 18 March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced new measures for protecting our most vulnerable people. This announcement included increased site restrictions to Aged Care residences, including:

No access will be permitted to people who:

  • have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • have been in contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • are currently experiencing fever or symptoms of acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath)
  • after 1 May 2020, no access will be granted to people who have not been vaccinated this year for influenza.

Visits:

  • are limited to a maximum of two people (family members, close friends or professional service providers) visiting at one time per day for each resident
  • must be short in duration, maintaining social distancing practices (1.5 metres)
  • must be held in the resident’s room or outdoors, not in common areas.

There will also be:

  • no large gatherings or social entertainment within the residence
  • no school groups of any size allowed to visit
  • restrictions that prevent children aged 16 or under from visiting, unless exceptional circumstances apply (for example, if their loved one is palliative).

What does this mean for Australian Unity Aged Care Residences?


What do these new restrictions mean?

We request that all visitors follow our site entry procedure. This procedure has been put in place to ensure:

  • We have full visibility on who is accessing the site and when
  • We minimise the number people visiting a resident at any one time
  • Hand hygiene practices are being followed prior to entering areas where residents are present
  • Visitor contact information and declarations are completed through the ‘Tell Us About You’ forms.

What other precautions and steps are we taking? 

  • We are following the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia issued by the Commonwealth Government on 13 March 2020, following the infectious disease management protocols and taking actions to control the current situation with onsite and head office teams coordinating our planning and management
  • We have increased our cleaning schedule—each aged care residence will have completed an initial deep clean by Wednesday 25 March, including every resident room and all common areas using specialist equipment. Hospital-grade products that eliminate pathogens are being used daily in all regular cleaning including mopping, this includes using Steri7 wipes on all touchpoints such as handrails, which remains active for up to 7 days
  • Additional training on infection control for all employees has been conducted and will continue throughout this COVID-19 public health situation.
  • We are exercising social distancing practices including limiting group gatherings—cancelling group events and activities—and keeping a distance between people
  • We have ceased all non-critical contractor works on site, ceased corporate and school visits, implemented additional visitor requirements (outlined above) and limited access to a single sign-in point, with all visitors required to enter via reception
  • We continue to closely monitor government advice and are taking all actions as required.

What you can do to help us

  • Knowing the symptoms: these include fever, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat
  • Focusing on good hand hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, before and after eating, and after going to the bathroom
  • Be vaccinated against influenza: Having the flu vaccine helps protect yourself and those around you especially those who are too sick, or too young to be vaccinated as well as other people including, people over 65 years of age and pregnant women. The flu vaccine won’t protect against COVID-19, however it may help to reduce the severity and spread of seasonal influenza, which can lower a person’s immunity and make them more susceptible to other illnesses.
  • If you are unwell, we ask that you avoid contact with others and do not visit our residence until you are better.

Resources

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