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Updated Coronavirus (COVID-19) information - Residential Aged Care

06 May 2021

Dear Family Member,

This update is in response to the evolving situation with COVID-19.

St Vincent’s Care Services has put some changes into place across all of our residential aged care facilities in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

These changes reflect the directions of various State Chief Health Officers under their respective public health legislation (the Directions). We always want to ensure the ongoing health and safety of all our residents, staff and the broader St Vincent's community.

We acknowledge that this is a very difficult time for many people and we will continue to support all of our residents and families during this challenging time. There are certain differences between each state, so please refer to your specific state below for directions.
 

 

Industry code for visiting residential aged care homes during COVID-19

The Visitor Access Codes main themes are:

- If there is a suspected or actual local cluster of COVID-19 in surrounding suburbs, or a suspected/known case of COVID-19 within a residential aged care facility, the site may decide to temporarily increase restrictions on visitors 

- Staff are required to screen visitors, educate visitors about social distancing and hygiene during their visit, but not supervise visits

- No visitor should attend an aged care home if they are unwell or displaying any cold/flu, respiratory or COVID-19 related symptoms 

The latest Visitor Access Code can be found here. The Code will continue to be reviewed and we will provide ongoing updates to keep you across any changes. 

 

Entrance testing

On entry to a St Vincent's Care Services Centre or Hub, you will be asked to complete a Heath Self-declaration Form, and have your temperature taken and other medical measures to determine if you have any influenza-like symptoms that may preclude you from entry. If you’re found to have failed any of the heath self-declarations or have recorded a temperature equal to or higher than 37.5 degrees, then you will not be permitted to enter the site. If you refuse to engage with entrance testing, you will not be permitted to enter the site.

 

Pre-booking your visit

A friendly reminder that social distancing regulations still apply at our facilities, therefore we please ask you to book at least 24 hours in advance of your planned visit as there are still limited visitor spots for each section of our facilities. 

You will receive an SMS reminder with your booking details.

The self-serve booking system can be accessed via this link here.

 

Visitor Age restrictions

Children under the age of 16 years are now able to visit residential aged care facilities.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has advised that a number of categories of people are considered to be at higher risk of serious illness if they are infected with COVID-19. The Government has issued strong advice for these people to be on high alert and avoid high risk areas or COVID-19 hotspots:

  • over 70 years of age;
  • over 65 years of age with a chronic medical condition;
  • an Indigenous Australian over the age of 50 with a chronic medical condition; and
  • somebody with a compromised immune system.

You can read more here.

What has not changed

There will still be limits in place regarding the number of people that can be in a shared communal space at the same time and staff will still need to declare when and where else they have worked outside of SVCS. 

Facilities are still required to participate in asymptomatic testing, and we will continue exclude visitors who are awaiting testing.

 

 QLD SPECIFIC UPDATES

Restrictions have eased across QLD as of 6am Thursday 15 April 2021, after no new cases of community transmission were detected in the state.

This means that masks will no longer be mandatory unless you are at an airport or travelling on a plane. While not mandatory, the Queensland Government is encouraging everyone to:

·        Carry a mask at all times when you are not at home

·        Wear a mask when you are travelling on public transport, in a taxi/ride share, or when in shopping centres

·        Wear a mask in any indoor or outdoor space when physical distancing is not possible



Directives for visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities

Aged Care sites across QLD will lift their restrictions, which means visitors are allowed back in facilities under the following conditions:

·        Visits to see your loved one must be pre-booked either via our online booking portal or by calling the Contact Centre on 1800 778 767.

·        Current visiting hours are to be maintained at our homes due to screening requirements.

·        Visitor numbers will continue to be capped at your loved one’s home to ensure safe social distancing is practiced.

·        Your loved one can now have 2 people visit at a time, with unlimited time or frequency per day.

·        Your loved one is able to leave their home for any reason provided they follow government directives to practice social distancing measures and wear a mask where physical distancing is not possible.

 As always, please do not visit your loved one’s home if you are feeling unwell or have been in close contact with a known COVID positive person or visited a high-risk location.

 


New influenza vaccination guidelines

Recently, the Queensland Government has mandated that from the 30th of May 2021, anyone entering a residential aged care facility in QLD must have a current influenza vaccination.  This includes staff, visitors, contractors, and volunteers.

That means that if you wish to visit your loved one at their home, you will need to have had a flu vaccination prior to your visit from Sunday 30th May.

Our Residential Aged Care Facilities will require evidence of your flu vaccination prior to, or upon attendance at your loved one’s home. Your vaccination evidence can be supplied one of two ways:

1.     You can upload your vaccination evidence at the time of booking your visit using our online booking portal. Please review the step-by-step instructions here: How visitors can make a booking and upload their vaccination evidence at the same time

2.     You can present an electronic or printed copy of your vaccination evidence upon arrival at your loved one’s home. This can be done through our check-in system using the iPad provided onsite. 

Please remember that you must have 14 days between any COVID-19 vaccination and flu vaccination. If you are unable to receive the flu vaccination due to a prior booking for a COVID-19 vaccination or for any other reason, such as an adverse reaction in the past, please speak to the Facility Manager.  Exceptions may be made for extenuating circumstances such as end of life or palliative care with additional precautions in place.

 

 

 NSW SPECIFIC UPDATES

NSW Health has recently  identified a new COVID-19 case within  Sydney's eastern suburbs.

  

Urgent investigations into the source of the infection and contact tracing are underway.

   

It is understood the person underwent testing on Tuesday 4 May, and returned a positive result yesterday, Wednesday 5 May.

  

They visited a number of venues while potentially infectious, so anyone who has attended one of the following venues at the times specified  must  immediately get tested and isolate: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/latest-news-and-updates

 

On top of this, from 5:00pm today, Thursday 6 May, across Greater Sydney — including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains, until 12:01am Monday 10th May, masks will be compulsory on public transport and in public indoor venues including retail, theatres, hospitals and aged care facilities.

 

You are also not allowed to enter QLD from 1am Friday 7th May if you have been to one of the contact locations listed. 

 

 Visitor Restrictions 

Edgecliff

Due to the recent COVID-19 case found in the community, we are taking additional precautionary measures over the next few days to keep everyone safe.

As a precautionary measure, we will be restricting visitors on Thursday 6th May, and Friday 7th May, whilst the Public Health Unit (PHU) complete contract tracing and identify locations of concern.

 

This means you cannot enter our Edgecliff facility unless you are:

·       an essential employee or contractor engaged by St Vincent's Care Services.

·       providing health, medical or pharmaceutical services to a resident, such as GPs or allied health workers.

·       providing essential care, palliative or end of life support to a resident.

·       a prospective resident of this facility or a person supporting a prospective resident.

 

Also:

·       Exempt visitors and staff MUST wear a mask and practice social distancing.

·       All non-essential contractors will not be permitted – this includes hairdressing, entertainment, building works.

·       All shared amenities will be closed including Chapels / places of worship

 

Please be assured residents will be able to continue to move freely within the facility and attend activities supported by staff and COVID safe plans.

There will be families with exceptional circumstances – these will be approved on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us if you believe you have exceptional circumstances so we can arrange a safe alternative for you.

 

Auburn, Bronte, Haberfield, Heathcote, Stella Maris and Yennora

From 5pm, Thursday 6th May, Residents may have a maximum of two visitors each day, and may have different visitors attend each day. If you have different visitor requirements that the online booking system does not support, please do not hesitate to call the Contact Centre on 1800 778 767 to discuss your individual circumstances, so we can help arrange these for you in advance of your visit.    

To book your visit please follow the link to our online booking portal, alternatively please call our contact centre on 1800 778 767. 

The following restrictions apply when visiting your loved one at their home: 

  • You are required to wear a mask when visiting your loved one. Staff are also required to wear masks
  • Residents can have 2 visitors at a time each day and may have different visitors attend
  • Residents can leave the facility for any reason but should practice social distancing.

Remember our online booking system is in place for all facilities and we ask that visits are pre-booked. To book your visit, please follow the link to our online booking portal, alternatively, please call our contact centre on 1800 778 767. 

 

NSW Border Changes

Due to the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic, various state governments continue to change their border restrictions, therefore we strongly encourage you to check with your relevant state authority or call us in advance of any planned interstate travel to visit one of our facilities.

For the latest updates on border changes head to - https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/what-you-can-and-cant-do-under-rules/border-restrictions

 

 

VIC SPECIFIC UPDATES

The Victorian Government has announced effective 11:59 p.m. Friday 26th February 2021, visitors are able to enter aged care homes, however density restrictions still apply in the home. 

This means that your loved one may have 2 visitors for a maximum of 2 hrs twice (two separate visits) per day. If additional or extended visits are required for extenuating circumstances, then please contact the Facility Manager for approval. 

Masks are still compulsory in all of our facilities

 

Update on visitations 

  • Visits to all sites must be pre-booked (either via online booking or the contact centre) 

  • Current visiting hours are to be maintained at sites due to screening requirements  

  • Visitor numbers will continue to be capped to ensure safe social distancing is practiced 

  • There are exceptions to these restrictions for those residents receiving end of life care 

Further details can be found within the Victorian Government’s table of restrictions here. 

As always, please do not visit your loved one’s home if you are feeling unwell or have been in close contact with a known COVID positive person or visited a high-risk location.  

 

 

Further guidance

Further guidance for families of residents in residential aged care, has been published by the Government and can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-families-and-residents-on-restricted-visits-to-residential-aged-care-facilities

St Vincent's Care Services acknowledges that this is a very difficult time and is conscious of the impact that these Directions have on residents and their loved ones.  These new Directions are legal requirements, made by the Government that we must all follow. More importantly, they are designed to safeguard residents in the care of St Vincent's, which we assure you is our utmost priority.

We request that you respect the new requirements so that we can play our part in ensuring the continued health and safety of our residents, employees and the St Vincent's community.

If you would like to discuss this further please contact the St Vincent’s Care Services COVID-19 support line on 1800 778 767 or svcs.info@svha.org.au.