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

26 November 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 20th November. 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

The following flu vaccination requirements are mandatory across our facilities in each state. 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. Exceptions apply for individuals who are unable to have the flu vaccine e.g. known anaphylaxis.

QLD, NSW and VIC - all staff, volunteers and contractors require an influenza vaccine
QLD and NSW – all visitors require an influenza vaccine 
VIC – visitors no longer require an influenza vaccine 

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

 Resident leave

Residents of our Queensland Aged Care facilities are able to leave their facility for several reasons including:
family gatherings
exercise
visiting a service provider such as hairdressers 
health services
visiting another aged care facility
attending a funeral

 

Visitor Guidelines

As you are aware, residents can now have up to two visitors at any one time. There is no limit on the number of visits allowed in a day or the length of each visit. 

On top of this: 

- Residents can now go outside when you visit. This includes into gardens, outdoor communal spaces and designated places on site. (Social distancing rules still apply)  

- Residents can now leave the facility with other residents, e.g. a group of residents being taken on a day trip

 

Processes and restrictions still in place 

Reception check-in processes and health declaration forms are still followed every time a visitor enters the site, regardless of the length of their visit. Social distancing rules, which means a reduced number of people can be in a facility or wing of a site at any one time.  

Visitors who have been to any locations at the same time as a COVID-19 case will be excluded for a period of 14 days. Any visitors who have been in the Liverpool LGA in the previous 14 days will also be excluded from our facilities. 

Since 11.59pm 16 November 2020, specific parts of South Australia, including Adelaide, are now declared COVID-19 hotspots. Anyone who has been in a COVID-19 hotspot within the last 14 days will be excluded from the facility. 

The number of declared hotspots in South Australia is 20 LGAs. You can view the full list of active hotspots for people travelling into Queensland here: https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/current-status/hotspots-covid-19 

 

Border changes

In good news, Queensland will now allow residents from Greater Sydney to enter the state from December 1st, in an easing of COVID-19 border restrictions. Visitors from New South Wales will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days when entering Queensland.

Please remember that if you have been to any locations at the same time as a COVID-19 case, you will be excluded from visiting for a period of 14 days. As mentioned, any visitors who have been in the Liverpool LGA in the previous 14 days will also be excluded from our facilities. 

 

Pre-booking your visit

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

 

Bus trips recommencing

We are very excited to announce that bus trips for aged care residents living in QLD and NSW will recommence. Safety measures will still be adhered to and for bus trips less than an hour, full seating capacity is now permitted. 

All residents and staff going on the bus must:  

* be well and screened (temperature and symptom check) prior to boarding the bus 
* use hand sanitiser before boarding the bus 
* wear a mask while on the bus – NSW mandatory, QLD optional 
* maintain physical distancing if able 
* use hand sanitiser after leaving the bus 
* have temperature taken and be checked for any symptoms on return 

 

 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

 

General visitation rulings

Two visitors are allowed to enter our facilities per day, for a maximum duration of up to 2 hours. 

 

COVID-19 hotspots

Additional areas have been added to the visitor restrictions list including: Liverpool LGA. If you live in or have visited any of these areas in the last 14 days, please be aware you are unable to visit any New South Wales aged care facility, unless under exceptional circumstances following a risk assessment and approval by the Facility Manager.

As community restrictions are due to ease, increased community transmission is more likely. Social distancing should be observed wherever possible. To ensure the safety of you, your loved ones and our staff, we will also continue to minimise staff working across multiple sites.
 

 

Off-site visits

Residents are now able to enjoy off-site visits with family.

When planning these outings, please discuss your off-site visit with the Facility Manager so they can complete a risk assessment of the outing. This also allows our staff to complete pre and post visit clinical assessments to make sure your loved one is healthy and well before, and after the off-site visit.  

These off-site visits will remain a possibility for residents, provided there is no change to Government guidelines and community transmission in the coming weeks.


Visitor guidelines

There are still requirements we must adhere to under the NSW Aged Care Directions for these sites:

- Temperature screening and health declaration forms must be completed prior to entering the facility

- If you have been to in the last 14 days, or live in, any of the restricted LGAs, then you are not permitted to enter the facility

- We ask that you keep visits at 1-2 hours in duration 

- Only 2 people are permitted to visit at a time

- Visits must occur in your loved ones’ room, outdoors or in a designated area

- You must not be in any communal spaces – this includes dining rooms, activity areas, chapels etc.

- You must maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres as much as possible

- To keep your loved ones safe and mitigate any risk at site, we still ask that you limit your visits to the facility during this time and use technology instead for virtual visits – our staff can arrange this for you

- You must wash your hands when you enter and leave a facility and when you enter and leave your loved one’s room 

 

Mask requirements

In good news, NSW Health has recently released advice for residential aged care facilities regarding visitors from Victoria. From 12.01am 23 November 2020, Victorian residents can visit NSW residential facilities subject to usual screening processes. 

Please remember that two visitors are allowed to enter our NSW facilities per day, for a maximum duration of up to 2 hours. Liverpool LGA is still considered a COVID-19 hotspot, therefore both visitors and staff are required to wear masks if they are entering our Auburn, Yennora, Haberfield and Heathcote facilities. Those visiting our Edgecliff, Bronte and Stella Maris facilities will not be required to wear a mask. 

This is in accordance with NSW Health. We’ll continue to review this ruling regularly.  

Please see this new advice on visiting aged care facilities in NSW at this page: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/racf-latest-advice.aspx

 

Pre-booking your visit

Social distancing regulations still apply at our sites; therefore we please ask you book at least 24 hours in advance of your planned visit as there are still limited visitor spots for each section of our facilities. 

The instructional guide as well as the booking link can be found here.  

 

Bus trips recommencing

Bus trips for aged care residents living in QLD and NSW will recommence. Safety measures will still be adhered to and for bus trips less than an hour, full seating capacity is now permitted. 

All residents and staff going on the bus must:  

* be well and screened (temperature and symptom check) prior to boarding the bus 
* use hand sanitiser before boarding the bus 
* wear a mask while on the bus – NSW mandatory, QLD optional 
* maintain physical distancing if able 
* use hand sanitiser after leaving the bus 
* have temperature taken and be checked for any symptoms on return 

 

Border changes

In good news, Queensland will now allow residents from Greater Sydney to enter the state from December 1st, in an easing of COVID-19 border restrictions. Visitors from New South Wales will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days when entering Queensland. 

Please remember that if you have been to any locations at the same time as a COVID-19 case, you will be excluded from visiting for a period of 14 days. As mentioned, any visitors who have been in the Liverpool LGA in the previous 14 days will also be excluded from our facilities. 

 

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

From midday 27 November 2020, across all SVCS Victorian facilities, restrictions will ease, which means there are no limitations on the number of visitors a resident may have or the length of the visit pending availability, however visitors will still need to follow visiting rules set by the facility. This is in line with the recent Vic Care Facilities Direction (17) released. 

People of any age can visit their loved ones across Victorian aged care homes, this also includes hairdressers and barbers, and music and diversional and recreational therapists. 

Once again please make sure you do not visit a facility if you are feeling unwell. You must also wear a face mask at all times. The influenza vaccination is mandatory for all staff and contractors, and is preferred for visitors, but not mandatory. 

 

Pre-booking your visit

Social distancing regulations still apply at our facilities; therefore, we ask families and friends to book at least 24 hours in advance of their planned visit as there are still limitations on the number of people that can be in the home at any one time due to social distancing and density requirements.

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

 

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.

From 12.01am 23 November 2020, Victorian residents can visit NSW residential aged care facilities subject to usual screening processes.

Please remember that two visitors are allowed to enter our NSW facilities per day, for a maximum duration of up to 2 hours. Liverpool LGA is still considered a COVID-19 hotspot, therefore both visitors and staff are required to wear masks if they are entering our Auburn, Yennora, Haberfield and Heathcote facilities. Those visiting our Edgecliff, Bronte and Stella Maris facilities will not be required to wear a mask. 

This is in accordance with NSW Health. We’ll continue to review this ruling regularly.  

Please see this new advice on visiting aged care facilities in NSW at this page: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/racf-latest-advice.aspx

 

Resident leave

Residents are allowed to leave the facility for any reason, provided they comply with current restrictions in Victoria such as adhering to social distancing, wearing a mask when indoors, and carrying a mask at all times 

Travelling in vehicles is also permitted, provided that residents wear face masks and social distance if possible. Staff will make sure to record the names of each passenger and clean the vehicle in between trips 

Residents will be screened on return, which includes having their temperature taken but are not required to isolate  

 

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. 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 still exclude visitors who are awaiting testing. 

 

Age restrictions

People of any age can visit their loved ones across Victorian aged care homes, this also includes personal care workers such as hairdressers and barbers, and music, diversional and recreational therapists. 

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 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, 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.