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.
General updates for all states
As you may be aware, the Australian Government has temporarily suspended the current ‘travel bubble’ arrangements between New Zealand and Australia. This is a precautionary approach in response to the discovery of community exposure in New Zealand.
This means anyone who has arrived in Australia from New Zealand from Thursday, 14th January 2021, is not permitted in any our homes, instead they should get tested and isolate until a negative result is returned and the restrictions have been lifted.
Exceptions may be granted for extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis and in line with the relevant state guidelines.
If you have been a close contact of anyone that has arrived in Australia from New Zealand since 14 January onwards, please get tested and delay visiting your loved one at their home until you receive a negative result and the restrictions have been lifted.
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.
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
To find your closest COVID-19 testing clinic, please follow this link to the QLD Government website. Test results should be returned within 24 hours, so we appreciate your patience and understanding during this time to keep your loved ones safe.
QLD 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.
From 1am AEST Monday, 21 December 2020 the QLD border is closed to anyone who has been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days or since the hotspot was declared (whichever is shorter). We understand this is a difficult time to not be able to connect with your loved ones. Please call us to arrange a virtual visit on 1800 778 767– the staff will happily arrange a Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, telephone chat or group call to keep you in touch with your loved ones.
We appreciate that some families have exceptional circumstances that may not meet the current restrictions in place, and we encourage you to call us so we can work out an alternative solution for you.
Residents of our Queensland Aged Care facilities can leave their facility for several reasons including:
- family gatherings
- visiting a service provider such as hairdressers
- health services
- visiting another aged care facility
- attending a funeral
Residents are to make arrangements for leave with the onsite staff to ensure all safety procedures are followed.
Bus trips and outings
Bus trips for aged care residents living in QLD have recommenced. 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
- Masks are optional
- maintain physical distancing if able
- use hand sanitiser after leaving the bus
- have temperature taken and be checked for any symptoms on return
NSW SPECIFIC UPDATES