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

28 September 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

As of 1am Friday 25 September 2020, the following residential aged care facilities will have their visitor restrictions lifted. 

- Boondall
- Bardon
- Carseldine 
- Mitchelton
- Kangaroo Point 

 
These facilities join Toowoomba, Arundel, Southport, Gympie, Maroochydore facilities in being able to welcome two visitors at any time to site and bringing back the online booking system. 

This online booking system will be available from 9am Friday 25 September for visitors to make bookings for Boondall, Bardon, Carseldine, Mitchelton and Kangaroo Point. 

 
Visitor guidelines
 
 All 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. Residents may also now leave their residential aged care facility for a range of reasons, including exercise or accessing health, attending a funeral or another aged care facility for example.   
 
 Residents can leave the facility to attend small family gatherings (physical distancing must still be maintained).  Residents can go outside with family members into gardens and outdoor communal spaces and designated places on site. (Social distancing rules still apply).  
 
 Visitors no longer have to wear masks. Staff will only be required to wear a mask if they work at more than one residential aged care site

 

 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. On top of this, any visitors who have been in Victoria or any NSW COVID-19 hotspots in the previous 14 days will be excluded from the facility.

 

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. 

 

 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

Visitor restrictions across aged care homes will be lifted in some parts of New South Wales, after a recent announcement from the NSW Government. This means restrictions will be lifted for the following facilities from midday 25 September 2020

 

- Bronte

Edgecliff

Heathcote

 - Haberfield

- Stella Maris 
 
NSW Health has updated the Local Government Areas (LGAs) list, which are restricted for residential aged care. This means the following facilities remain in restricted access and as such, will continue to restrict visitors:
 
- Yennora
- Auburn

 

Visitor guidelines 

Bronte, Edgecliff, Heathcote, Haberfield and Stella Maris facilities are no longer in restricted access and are able to have visitors come on site from midday Friday 25 September. 

However, 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 NSW LGAs, (or QLD restricted areas or VIC) 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
- You will be offered a mask to wear whilst at the site
 

 

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 online booking system will be live from midday on Friday 25 September. 

 

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

 

 

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 NSW to minimise any risk of infection. However as of 1 October, those living in the shires of Bryon, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glenn Innes shires will be able to visit Queensland in an expanded travel bubble. 

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.  

 

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

Per the State Government’s announcement visitor restrictions across aged care homes have been relaxed in Victoria as of 11.59pm on Sunday 27 September, after Second Step restrictions were implemented in the Metropolitan Melbourne area. This means residents can now receive one visitor per day for up to two hours to provide necessary care, or for social or emotional reasons. 

 

Pre-booking your visit 

As social distancing measures are still required across all our facilities, the total number of visitors allowed within a facility at any one time will be restricted. It is essential that you prebook each visit at least 24 hours beforehand via the booking system or by calling the contact centre on 1800 778 767.  

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.

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.