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

03 August 2020

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 and staff and the broader in the 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.

 

General updates for all states

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

The Visitor Access Code has recently been reviewed and was updated on Friday 3rd July. The main updates include: 

- 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.  

 

Influenza vaccination

From 1 May 2020, all staff, contractors and volunteers must have an up-to-date influenza vaccination to be permitted to enter and remain upon the premises of a residential aged care facility. This is a requirement of the Directions to prevent those who are not vaccinated from entering, and remaining at facilities, except where exemptions to the Directions apply.

Documented evidence of the vaccination is required to be provided and recorded.

 

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.

 

QLD specific updates

Restricted access

From 5pm 3 August 2020, Queensland Heath advised all aged care facilities in SE QLD, excluding Sunshine Coast, will place their facilities into restricted access: 

- Brisbane City Local Government Area (Map) 

- Ipswich City Local Government Area (Map) 

- Logan City Local Government Area (Map) 

- Redland City Local Government Area (Map) 

- Gold Coast City Local Government Area (Map) 

- Scenic Rim Regional Local Government Area (Map) 

This means the following St Vincent’s Care Services locations are placed into restricted access: 

- Arundel 

- Southport 

- Bardon 

- Mitchelton 

- Boondall 

- Carseldine 

- Kangaroo Point (already in restricted access, this continues, no further change) 

 

Visits with residents - Kangaroo Point, Arundel, Southport, Bardon, Boondall, Carseldine, Mitchelton

You cannot enter these facilities unless you are: 

- an 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 palliative or end of life support to a resident; 

- a prospective resident of this facility. 

 

Additional restrictions in place 
 
- Residents can move freely within the facility however can only leave to access health services, attend a funeral, or in the case of an emergency 

- All persons (other than the residents) MUST wear a surgical mask whilst on site 

- Sites will ensure (to the extent reasonably practicable) employees and contractors do not work across multiple residential aged care facilities 

There will be families with exceptional circumstances – these will be approved on a case by case basis by the Facility Manager.

Staff will be limited to working across multiple facilities where possible and will be wearing masks to protect residents from community transmission. 

 

Visiting and booking for Maroochydore, Gympie, and Toowoomba 

Residents in our facilities in Maroochydore, Gympie, and Toowoomba can still have visitors but there are restrictions in place. 

Anyone who lives in or has been to any of the restricted QLD locations listed above, Greater Sydney, or Victoria in the last 14 days, cannot enter a St Vincent's Care Services aged care facility. 

 

Restrictions at Maroochydore, Gympie, and Toowoomba: 

- Visitors limited to a maximum of two visitors at a time per resident 

- For end of life, more than two visitors are allowed 

- Residents can leave a facility for end of life circumstances, palliative care, access to health care, small family gatherings of up to 20 people, undertaking exercise, visiting a service, or attending a funeral 

- They can visit another aged care facility if it isn’t in a restricted Local Government Area 

We have also turned off online booking for ALL locations. If you want to visit Toowoomba, Gympie, or Maroochydore, please call 1800 778 767. 

 

Connecting with loved ones

We understand how important it is for you to stay connected with loved ones, particularly during this difficult time. The staff at your facility are happy to help connect you with your family. 

You can keep in touch via:  

Phone: If your loved one does not have a phone in their room or access to a mobile, our team can arrange a landline to be installed in their room. There is a fee. 

Video calls: You can access video call applications (such as FaceTime and Skype) by using free Wi-Fi in common room areas. If you don’t have a device to make or receive a video call, you can arrange to use one of the facilities iPads. Alternatively, a device can be dropped off to the reception at your local facility and one of our friendly staff members will assist in setting it up. 


Group phone calls: We can arrange a teleconference or ‘virtual group chat’ between yourself and several family members at the same time.  

Contact reception at your local facility, or the St Vincent’s Contact Centre on 1800 778 767, to discuss these options further. 

 

Age restrictions

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.  

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 self-isolate. The latest advice released by the National Cabinet is that Australians should self-isolate at home to the maximum extent practicable if they are:

  • 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. 

 

 

NSW specific updates

Who can attend the facility?

As part of keeping our community safe and well, we are limiting the number of visitors across our NSW facilities.  

We are asking for your support to help us minimise visitors to our sites to help us protect our vulnerable residents. This is a standard procedure that we follow as it helps us reduce health risks among other residents, particularly given peoples’ age and frailty. We ask you to reconsider your visit and only attend is you absolutely need to. 

 

 

Travelling across borders / interstate

From Wednesday 8 July, NSW will temporarily shut its border with Victoria to contain the spread of COVID-19 to reduce the spread. In most cases, people entering NSW from Victoria will be required to have a current NSW border entry permit. QLD has also shut its border to Greater Sydney to minimise any risk of infection. 

Please call ahead if you are travelling interstate to visit one of our facilities to check you can enter, as some extra interstate visitor restrictions apply to aged care facilities.  

 

NSW hotspots

Based on the COVID-19 outbreak that is currently happening in South East Sydney, we are placing all of our NSW St Vincent’s Care Services aged care facilities into restricted access.  

NSW Health have also listed four new districts of Sydney to the list of hotspots – Waverly, Woollahra, Bankstown, Randwick.   

These are in addition to the existing areas of Parramatta, Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly. You can see the full list here

The restrictions will take place from midday Friday 31st July 2020. 

 

Wearing masks on site

All staff members and visitors will be required to wear masks when on site. This will be compulsory from midnight, Friday 24th July 2020.   

If your visit is absolutely necessary, and you meet the restricted visitor criteria, you will have to wear a mask. This is compulsory for anyone onsite at any of our St Vincent’s aged care facilities across NSW. We will provide you the mask upon entry. This is to keep our residents safe. 

As an additional precaution, we will also be offering masks to our residents on a voluntary basis. Stock is on hand to allow staff to offer masks as optional. We will be explaining to our residents that the purpose of wearing masks by staff and visitors is mandatory to keep them safe from outside community transmission, and that wearing a mask is completely their choice. 

 

Visits to site

These restrictions mean you will not be permitted to enter a St Vincent’s aged care facility unless you are: 

- an employee or contractor engaged by St Vincent's Care Services; 

- providing health, medical or pharmaceutical services to a resident, such as GP’s or allied health workers; 

- providing palliative or end of life support or in extenuating circumstances, approved by the facility manager 

We have also temporarily disabled site access cards/codes at this time. All visits are suspended, and you must call in advance to discuss your circumstances.

 

 

Connecting with loved ones

We understand how important it is for you to stay connected with loved ones, particularly during this difficult time. The staff at your facility are happy to help connect you with your family. 

You can keep in touch via:  

Phone: If your loved one does not have a phone in their room or access to a mobile, our team can arrange a landline to be installed in their room. There is a fee. 

Video calls: You can access video call applications (such as FaceTime and Skype) by using free Wi-Fi in common room areas. If you don’t have a device to make or receive a video call, you can arrange to use one of the facilities iPads. Alternatively, a device can be dropped off to the reception at your local facility and one of our friendly staff members will assist in setting it up. 


Group phone calls: We can arrange a teleconference or ‘virtual group chat’ between yourself and several family members at the same time.  

Contact reception at your local facility, or the St Vincent’s Contact Centre on 1800 778 767, to discuss these options further. 

 

Resident leave

For St Vincent's Care Services NSW, a resident will not be permitted to leave a St Vincent's residential aged care facility unless it is to access health care, in the case of an emergency or for end of life care. 

 

Age restrictions

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.  

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 self-isolate. The latest advice released by the National Cabinet is that Australians should self-isolate at home to the maximum extent practicable if they are:

  • 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. 

 

 

VIC specific updates

 As you are aware, Victoria is continuing to see large increases in COVID-19 cases. People living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will now be required to wear a face covering when leaving home, following a concerning increase in COVID-19 cases. This new ruling is in place from 11.59pm on Wednesday 22 July.

To minimise potential COVID-19 outbreaks at our facility, visits are to be significantly restricted at this time until further notice too.   

 

Who can attend the facility?

In the majority of cases, people will not be permitted to visit. Visits are only permitted to provide end of life support or for those with extenuating circumstances, which will be reviewed on a case by case basis.  

If you are given permission to visit you will have to wear a mask.   

From midnight Thursday 16th July 2020, you will not be permitted to enter an aged care facility unless you are: 

- an employee or contractor engaged by St Vincent's Care Services; 

- providing health, medical or pharmaceutical services to a resident, such as GP’s or allied health workers; 

- providing end of life support to a resident 

 

Connecting with loved ones

We understand how important it is for you to stay connected with loved ones, particularly during this difficult time. The staff at your facility are happy to help connect you with your family. 

You can keep in touch via:  

Phone: If your loved one does not have a phone in their room or access to a mobile, our team can arrange a landline to be installed in their room. There is a fee. 

Video calls: You can access video call applications (such as FaceTime and Skype) by using free Wi-Fi in common room areas. If you don’t have a device to make or receive a video call, you can arrange to use one of the facilities iPads. Alternatively, a device can be dropped off to the reception at your local facility and one of our friendly staff members will assist in setting it up. 


Group phone calls: We can arrange a teleconference or ‘virtual group chat’ between yourself and several family members at the same time.  

Contact reception at your local facility, or the St Vincent’s Contact Centre on 1800 778 767, to discuss these options further. 

 

Travelling across borders / interstate

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.

Visitors who live in or recently travelled to Victoria are not allowed onsite.

 

Resident leave

For Victorian facilities, a resident will not be permitted to leave a St Vincent's residential aged care facility unless it is to access health care, in the case of an emergency or for end of life care.   

 

Religious gatherings 

For Victorian sites, facility onsite chapels will be closed. Live streaming/on demand Mass services will be provided where available and there will be increased pastoral care support for residents. All shared amenities will be closed too such as hairdressing salons, cafes, libraries and media rooms


Age restrictions

All visitors to residential aged care services, under the age of 16, are not permitted, unless they are visiting for the purpose of end of life support for a resident.

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 self-isolate. The latest advice released by the National Cabinet is that Australians should self-isolate at home to the maximum extent practicable if they are:

  • 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. 

 

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 cognisant 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, theare 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 518 130 or svcs.info@svha.org.au.