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Retirement Communities – COVID-19 updates

There is a lot of work being done across our Retirement Communities to ensure we are taking all necessary precautions and putting plans in place to maintain everyone’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.

As a result of advice from the Australian Government and Department of Health, we are increasing restrictions within this community. This means you will notice some changes, including:

  • large inter-community social events will be cancelled
  • access for Australian Unity corporate employees and contractors will be minimised. 

We would like to reassure you that these are purely precautionary measures and all employees based in the community will remain working there at this stage.

Important updates

Victorian Retirement Communities

You might be aware, Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday afternoon announced renewed restrictions for Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the Melbourne metropolitan region in response to a further spike of COVID-19 cases in Victoria.

Several of our villages are located within the affected region and will be impacted by these announcements.

We encourage you to follow all government outlined restrictions, including following the no visitors to your home restriction.

As during previous heightened restrictions, Australian Unity will need to reinstate closures of some community facilities in villages located in the Melbourne metropolitan region. The current Victorian Government advice is that these restrictions will be in place for at least 6 weeks. As such, we anticipate the following areas will be closed until Wednesday, 19 August 2020, which is the current end date for these new Stage 3 restrictions.

Community centres, reception areas and foyers will remain open as an access point only (in other words, no gatherings should occur in these spaces). Site-based shops and kiosks (for takeaway only service) and hairdressers will remain open for the time being as well. Outdoor community spaces (BBQ areas, etc) and outdoor recreation areas (bowling greens, etc) will also remain open, however residents are asked to interact with only members of their households in these spaces or with one other person while maintaining 1.5 metres physical distance. Equipment should not be shared.

We thank you for your support in the implementation of these restrictions and as we continue to work to protect the health and wellbeing of our community. We ask you to respect these government restrictions and follow these for the benefit of the whole village.

Our team remains on site and we encourage you to reach out if you have any concerns or questions. 

 

Victorian Retirement Communities

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. 

You may have seen the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew’s announcement yesterday afternoon, in which he announced that 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. 

While our communities aren’t located in these areas, 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.

Victorian Retirement Communities

The substantial increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria has been attributed to household contacts spreading the virus amongst extended family groups. As a result, we have reviewed and updated our visitor recommendations for the village as follows:  

  • Maximum of five visitors per household at any one time 
  • Limit the duration of these visits and use social distancing practices throughout 

Reconsider what is essential in terms of leaving the village, but also who is coming into your home, especially in relation children under the age of 16 and contractors.  

In addition to the areas previously advised as having been re-opened – we’ll be increasing resident access to parts of the village, subject to social distancing and the one person per four square metre capacity requirement from Monday, 22 June 2020.

We will continue to review these restrictions in line with Commonwealth and Victorian Government restrictions and advice. 

NSW Retirement Communities

As the state of emergency concludes in NSW, we’re also winding back Australian Unity’s emergency protocols. We encourage you to continue to be guided by the general public health advice and rules provided by the NSW Government. 

We’re a community 

Thank you for your continued support during this difficult period. Although it’s not over yet, your patience and understanding, and your contribution to keeping our community safe, is really appreciated. 

Thank you for staying safe and doing your bit to slow the spread of COVID-19. The health advice remains the same, practice good hygiene, maintain social distancing keeping at least 1.5 metres from others, stay home and avoid contact if you’re feeling unwell, and get tested even if you have mild symptoms.

Visitors and community areas

While there is still a long way to go, we have reviewed and updated our visitor recommendations and resident access to some community areas subject to social distancing and one person per four square metre capacity in line with Commonwealth and State Government restrictions and advice from Monday, 1 June 2020.

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 are out and about. 

Visitors

As a result of announcements by the NSW and Victorian Governments this week, we have reviewed and updated our visitor recommendations for our villages as follows: 

  • Maximum of 5 visitors per household at any one time 
  • Limit the duration of these visits and use social distancing practices throughout 
  • Reconsider what is essential in terms of leaving the village, but also who is coming into your home, especially in relation children under the age of 16 and contractors. 

Community areas

While we must continue to be vigilant, we will be increasing resident access to some community areas in line with Commonwealth and State Government restrictions and advice from Monday, 18 May 2020.

You will have heard in the media that Australia is making encouraging progress in the containment of COVID-19. As Australia continues to successfully ‘flatten the curve’, some States and Territories have begun easing restrictions. We have therefore reviewed the restrictions currently in place within our villages as well. While we must continue to be vigilant, we will be increasing resident access to some community areas from Friday, 1 May 2020.

These community facilities will operate with some restrictions still in place. These include only being open at set times, having a maximum of two people present at any one time, ensuring those present practice physical distancing (if you’re not from the same household) and requesting that residents maintain good hand hygiene.

Other communal areas that can’t safely be used while meeting the one person per 4m2 requirement or those that remain under specific State Government restrictions (e.g. gyms) will remain closed. Visitor guidelines also remain in place and we thank you for your support in following them. These restrictions will continue until at least Friday, 15 May 2020.

From a State Government perspective, as you’d know, Stage 3 restrictions remain in place which 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. 

However, in NSW, restrictions on gatherings will be eased from Friday, 1 May 2020 to allow a maximum of two adults and their children to visit others in their homes.

Victoria’s public health directions will remain unchanged until at least 11 May 2020, when the current state of emergency ends, and the restrictions will be reviewed. 

We also suggest you consider downloading the Australian Government’s COVID-19 tracing application on your phone. Search for ‘COVIDSafe’ in your app store, it’s available on Apple and Android devices. 

As you’ll be aware, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 remains extremely high and for that reason we have made the decision to keep in place the current restrictions on site services and visitors until at least the end of April 2020. This also remains subject to further announcements or restrictions imposed by government.

Please ensure you’re following the visitor guidelines detailed in our last communications; namely that gatherings are limited to two people only and access to the village is restricted for children aged under 16 in particular.

Staying in touch

We’re all working hard to change the way we interact and engage with others, and as the restrictions continue, working out new ways to interact with each other and staying engaged becomes even more important.

Easter is traditionally a time spent with family and friends, so consider how you will stay connected this year. It could be scheduling a call or sending a card, note or even a cheeky egg to let others know you’re thinking of them.

Different generations use different tools; Facebook, WhatsApp, email, text message, phone calls, the list goes on. We all need to adapt to each other's preferences, as part of our efforts to stay in touch. We encourage you to reach out to your loved ones and work out what works for you. For many people, frequency is more important than duration or form.

We thank you for your support as we continue to work to protect the health and wellbeing of our community. Our team remains on site and we encourage you to reach out if you have any concerns of questions regarding the latest changes. However, where possible, we ask you to call or email first before visiting in person.

Over the weekend there was further government advice which has impacts for a number of our residents.

One of the most significant announcements yesterday, while not a compulsion, is that people aged 70 and over should stay at home and self-isolate for their own protection to the maximum extent practicable.

To support us in providing a safe village environment for everyone who lives here, we are requesting residents strongly consider:

  1. How, when and why they are leaving the village?
  2. Who you are inviting in to the village?
  3. Is it essential?

This is not only for your own health and wellbeing, but also for your neighbors as well.

Visitors

Given the need to protect the community, the below Visitor Guidelines are now in place:

  • Maximum of one or two people per day, to support you with essential things you require (for example, grocery delivery, home GP visit, etc).
  • Limit the duration of these visits and use social distancing practices during the visit.
  • We request that you do not allow access to the village for any children aged under 16 at this time. This is based on advice from the Department of Health that children and young people may be carriers of COVID-19 but show no symptoms, making it extremely difficult to tell if it’s safe for them to visit an older relative.
  • Reconsider what is essential both in terms of leaving the village, but also who is coming into your home, especially in relation to contractors (in other words, ask yourself ‘does it need to be done now or could it wait?’).

For any Australian Unity home visits, for example a maintenance job, we will be calling ahead of the scheduled appointment to check you are fit and well before we come to your home. This is to protect you and our employees and contractors.

During any visit from our employees, they will be practicing social distancing and hand hygiene. Please note all village employees are aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and they know they must stay away from the village if they are unwell.

We understand the current situation and these measures may be stressful for you and your loved ones. We do encourage you to keep in touch via phone and video calls, send postcards, photos or artwork as it is important for everyone to continue with regular communication. We also encourage you to use public support services, like Beyond Blue or Lifeline, if you are concerned or just need to talk to someone.

Outdoor public spaces

Under the stronger advice, you can leave your house to go for a walk or exercise outdoors if you are well, but you should limit contact with others as much as possible.
However updated requirements that “only two people should now gather in public spaces” and “other areas of gathering” will have impacts on the outdoor spaces at the village and their uses.

We ask you to respect these government restrictions and follow these for the benefit of the whole village.

We have reviewed the additional social distancing and essential services measures announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week.

These announcements stated that non-essential services and businesses must close. This includes indoor sports venues such as gyms and swimming pools, along with other non-essential services and places of social gathering.

After a thorough review of government requirements, and to best protect the health and wellbeing of all our residents, Australian Unity is following the government advice and has made the decision to close a number of communal areas that cannot safely be used while meeting the one person per four-square-metre requirement. These closures will be in place for at least the next 14 days, unless otherwise advised by government authorities.

Community centres, receptions and foyers will remain open as an access point, however they are not to be used as a place to gather. Site-based shops, kiosks and outdoor spaces will remain open as well for the time being, however residents are asked to strictly follow social distancing practices of 1.5 metres between each person present.

On Sunday 22 March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced additional measures, many of which will directly affect residents as part of stage one restrictions.

This included that non-essential services and businesses must close. This includes indoor sports venues, such as commercial gyms and indoor swimming pools, along with other non-essential services. 

To ensure we protect the health and wellbeing of all our residents and the community, Australian Unity has decided to temporarily close the communal areas for 48 hours, while we establish how we can adhere to the governments’ stage one restrictions.

Over the coming days we will be reviewing what services we can re-open in line with the non-essential services shut down and provide guidance on the number of people who can safely use a space while meeting the one person per four-square-metre requirement.

How you can support us

 

The Prime Minister also made an announcement restricting visitor access to aged care facilities. It is important to know that while these mandatory restrictions do not apply to retirement communities, the need to do everything possible to protect our residents and employees from COVID-19 transmission is just as important here.

We ask the following of residents: 

  • Consider using phone or video calls as regular communication with family members and friends, or limit visits to a short duration conducted in a residence or outdoors, rather than in community areas where the risk of transmission is higher. 
  • Practice social distancing, including maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people. Avoid close contact with others, such as touching, kissing or hugging, or any gatherings with other residents. 
  • Organise to receive the annual influenza vaccination through your GP or local pharmacy. Note this will prevent against influenza and its complications, but not against COVID-19. 
  • Continue to follow good hygiene practices, including frequent hand washing. 
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell or if you are required to self-isolate. If you develop flu-like symptoms, please seek medical attention and alert a member of our team. 
Additionally, we are asking all visitors, including our contractors, service and home care providers, as well as family and other guests, to register their visit by completing a voluntary form available at reception. This form provides a register to assist health authorities trace people who might be subsequently exposed to COVID-19. 

 

  • We have reached out to all residents to complete a ‘Tell Us About You’ form—this has allowed us to update the contact list so we can communicate essential information to you as quickly as possible
  • We are working through how we can best support our communities and ensure our employees can remain on site
  • We have reviewed all planned social events for the coming month and have cancelled many large, inter-community events to reduce the number of visitors on site.
  • We will also ensure that all events and community spaces actively promote social distancing measures
  • We are engaging with residents' committees to ensure our efforts to manage COVID-19 risks takes the perspective of our residents into account.
  • We have increased the cleaning schedule and are using hospital-strength cleaning products for all our community spaces  
  • Additional training on infection control for all employees has been conducted and will continue as needed
  • We continue to closely monitor government advice and are taking all necessary actions to best protect the safety and wellbeing of our employees and residents
  • In this regard, it is essential for all residents, employees and visitors to adhere to the self-isolation requirements set by the Australian Government. These requirements now mandate that any person arriving from overseas is required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival—this is regardless of the location you were in.  

Victorian Government

For residents located in the Melbourne metropolitan region, the Victorian Government announced a return to ‘Stage 3 Stay at Home’ community restrictions this means:

From 11.59pm on Wednesday 8 July 2020, residents must stay at home unless it's for:

  • Shopping for food and supplies that you need
  • Care and care giving
  • Exercise and outdoor recreation
  • Work and education – if you can’t do it from home

Limits on gatherings:

  • No visitors at home
  • No more than two people (or your household group) gathering in public
  • Weddings limited to five people
  • Funerals limited to 10 people (plus those conducting)

Activity:

  • Subject to conditions, fishing, boating, tennis, golf and surfing can continue
  • Community sport and indoor sport and recreation will close
  • Religious ceremonies will be broadcast only

Holidays:

  • If you're already holidaying, you can complete that holiday
  • No new holiday travel can be undertaken
  • You can't visit a second residence outside the restricted areas (e.g. holiday home)

The health advice remains the same, practice good hygiene, maintain social distancing keeping at least 1.5 metres from others, stay home and avoid contact if you’re feeling unwell, and get tested even if you have mild symptoms.

People who are over 70, people with existing health conditions over 60 and Indigenous Australians over 50 are strongly advised to stay home as they are at a greater risk should they contract COVID-19.

Victorian Government

Over the weekend, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the extension of the State of Emergency in Victoria until 19 July 2o20, which allows the Victorian Government to continue the measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Victorians safe. 

As of 11:59pm on Sunday, 21 June 2020: 

  • The number of visitors you can have at your home has been reduced to five.  
  • Outside the home, families and friends can meet in groups up to ten. 
  • Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship – will all stay at a maximum of 20 people in any one space. 
  • Those buying a drink at a licensed venue such as a pub or restaurant, will no longer be required to purchase a meal, but will be served at a table, not the bar.  
  • Businesses like gyms, cinemas, theatres can reopen with a maximum of 20.  
  • The one person per four square metre rule is still to be applied at all times. 

Premier Daniel Andrews has reminded Victorians to act while we can. That means staying safe while out in the community but just as importantly, staying safe at home. Only see those you need to – if you need to. If you do have to see people, keep your distance - no handshakes or hugs - maintain good hygiene, and if you’re feeling unwell, stay at home.  

NSW Government

The NSW government has announced further easing of restrictions from Wednesday, 1 July 2020 to include the number of people allowed inside seated, indoor venues being determined by the one person per four square metre rule, with no upper limit. 

For the most up to date information and advice on COVID-19 visit the  Australian Government Department of Health’s website

Victorian Government

The Victorian Government has announced the further easing of restrictions. From Monday, 1 June 2020 changes to current restrictions include:

  • Private gatherings increase to 20 people in a house, including members of the household
  • Public gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, increase to 20
  • Overnight stays in private residences are now permitted, as well as camping and tourist accommodation
  • Weddings and small religious ceremonies can have up to 20 people, and funerals up to 50 people
  • 2o people can attend auction houses, real estate auctions and open house inspections
  • Restaurants, cafes and pubs can open and serve meals for up to 20 patrons
  • Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, drive in cinemas, zoos and arcades can re-open with up to 20 people per space
  • Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas, tattoo and massage parlours can re-open for up to 20 people
  • Community facilities (such as libraries) can re-open with no more than 20 people in a single space
  • Non-contact outdoor sporting activities can have up to 20 people participate and indoor and outdoor swimming pools can re-open for up to 20 people

Victorians over 70, and those with chronic health conditions, are still being urged to think carefully about limiting their interactions in order to reduce the risk of infection.

NSW Government

The NSW Government has announced the further easing of restrictions. From Monday, 1 June 2020 changes to current restrictions include:

  • Travel to regional NSW
  • Visitors to museums, galleries and libraries
  • Pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants can have up to 50 customers
  • Beauty and nail salon operators can begin treatments

While the following restrictions remain unchanged:

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
  • Up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time
  • Weddings can have up to 10 guests
  • 20 mourners can attend indoor funerals, 30 mourners if the service is held outdoors
  • Religious gathering/places of worship up to 10 worshippers
  • Use of outdoor equipment with caution
  • Outdoor pools open with restrictions

Victorian Government

The Victorian Government this week announced the gradual easing of community restrictions, providing Victorians 5 reasons to leave home effective 11.59pm on Tuesday, 12 May 2020:

  • Shopping for food and supplies that you need
  • Care and care giving
  • Exercise and outdoor recreation
  • Work and education – if you can’t do it from home
  • Visiting friends and family – if you really need to

Other changes to current restrictions include: 

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
  • Up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time
  • Weddings can have up to 10 guests
  • 20 mourners can attend indoor funerals, 30 mourners if the service is held outdoors

Premier Daniel Andrews has asked for Victorians to use their judgment and common sense, with the State Government message remaining the same: if you can stay at home, you must stay at home. 

NSW Government

The NSW Government has announced the gradual easing of community restrictions, which will commence on Friday, 15 May 2020. This first phase includes: 

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
  • Up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time
  • Cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time, while maintaining social distancing
  • Weddings can have up to 10 guests
  • 20 mourners can attend indoor funerals, 30 mourners if the service is held outdoors
  • Religious gathering/places of worship up to 10 worshippers
  • Use of outdoor equipment with caution
  • Outdoor pools open with restrictions

Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a media conference on Sunday March 29, which appealed for all Australians to stay at home. The government also announced further restrictions:

  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to two persons only (except for larger households).
  • New ‘strong advice’ is that people should stay home unless shopping for essentials; for medical care or compassionate needs; to exercise in compliance with the new two-person rules; or for work or study.
  • People who are over 70, people with existing health conditions over 60 and Indigenous Australians over 50 are strongly advised to stay home.
  • Some new public areas – public playgrounds, outside gyms and skateparks – will be closed from Monday 30 March.
  • NSW and Victoria police have confirmed today that they may issue on-the-spot fines for breaching quarantine or social distancing orders.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced new measures for protecting the community from the spread of COVID-19. This announcement included:

  • an indefinite level 4 travel ban in place for the entire world
  • a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more and non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 or more
  • social distancing recommendations remain in place, including advice to not handshake or hug
  • new measures are in place for visiting elderly relatives in aged care. In end-of-life situations, facilities will have the discretion to put very strict arrangements in place to enable family members to see relatives outside of these restrictions.

What you can do?

To help reduce risks to residents, we are asking all visitors, including our contractors, service and home care providers, as well as your family and other guests, to register their visit by completing a ‘Tell Us About You’ form, available at reception. This form makes it clear that any visitors who are unwell or required to be in self-isolation should not enter the community or your individual residence. It also provides a register to assist health authorities trace people who might have been exposed to COVID-19.  

Your assistance in supporting this voluntary register will help protect the health of you and your neighbours, as well as employees in this community.  

Your wellbeing is paramount and you are encouraged to proactively support your own health and get help if you need it. It is important that we all plan and consider what isolation may mean for you, and what it may mean for your family or visitors. Please be assured, we will do our best to support you during this period and we will keep in regular contact to make sure you are safe and comfortable.  

Stay informed

For the most up to date information and advice on COVID-19 visit the Department of Health’s website:

  • National Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080
  • State or territory health information lines:
  • Victoria: 1300 60 60 24
  • All other states and territories: 1800 022 222

Know how COVID-19 is spread 

The virus can spread from person to person through:  

  • close contact with an infected person (including in the 24 hours before they started showing symptoms)  
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze  
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.
  • COVID-19 is a new disease, so there is no existing immunity in our community. This means that COVID-19 could spread widely and quickly.

Know what symptoms to look for:  

Symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly. People with Coronavirus may experience:

  • fever  
  • flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
  • shortness of breath.  

Create a Household Plan of Action  

  • Consider members of your household who may be at greater risk such as people with severe chronic illnesses 
  • Ask your neighbours what their plan includes
  • Create an emergency contact list including family, friends, neighbours and healthcare providers
  • Choose a room in your house that can be used to separate sick household members from others if needed
  • Consider your future plans around travel, attendance at social gatherings and appointments.

Take every day preventative actions

  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • Disposing of tissues properly
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitisers at times when you aren’t able to wash your hands  
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home  
  • If you are sick, avoiding contact with others
  • Stay more than 1.5 metres away from people
  • Cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobile phones, keys and wallets
  • Consider staying at home and away from crowds if you or a family member have any underlying health issues that may put you at greater risk
  • When you go out in public, keeping away from others who are sick and limiting close contact.  
  • As we have already seen, the situation continues to evolve incredibly quickly so we appreciate your patience as we may need to make further changes to our approach at short notice.  

We thank you for your continued support as we all work through this together.  

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