Revised staged visit arrangements at our Menora Gardens Residential Care facility
6 May 2020
Dear Residents, Families, and Visitors,
Further to recent correspondence and subsequent initiatives announced by the Prime Minister relating to residential aged care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic I write to advise you of revised staged visit arrangements at our Menora Gardens residential care facility.
As mentioned in previous correspondence, in the absence of a vaccine for COVID-19, preventing exposure is the single most important step that we can take to protect ourselves and others from contracting this virus. In light of evidence that older people are more susceptible to contracting and being seriously affected by COVID-19, a highly precautionary approach has been adopted across the aged care sector in responding to the pandemic, based on the latest and best medical advice. This approach includes restricting visitors’ access to residential aged care facilities, and also involves screening visitors and staff on entry to these facilities to minimise the risk of viral transmission to aged care residents.
In doing so, we are placing our trust in all visitors to fully comply with the measures detailed below. As we begin to experience cooler weather and move closer to winter, now is not the time for complacency and indifference to the possibility of both the COVID-19 virus and the usual influenza season being present simultaneously.
Staged visits will be able to be undertaken seven days a week commencing Sunday the 10th May 2020, during the following times:
Ground, First and Second Floors
10:30 am to 11:30 am
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Weather permitting - Ground floor patio area or resident’s room.
Not in the lounge or dining areas.
Howes Centre & House 1
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Residents room or garden areas. Not in the lounge or dining areas.
In relation to visits the following Commonwealth Government mandated measures remain in place until further notice:
Visitors and staff may not enter residential care facilities, if they have:
- Returned from overseas or interstate in the last 14 days;
- Been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days;
- A fever or any (even mild) symptoms of acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath).
Visitors entering our residential care facilities must:
- Use hand sanitiser provided upon entering the facility and take their temperature which must be no more than 37.5 and recorded on the sheet provided;
- From 1 May 2020, provide staff with documentary evidence of their influenza vaccination prior to entry.
(Note: residential aged care providers must seek appropriate evidence of immunisation status from individuals seeking to enter the residential aged care facility. Appropriate evidence may be a statement or record from a health practitioner; or an immunisation history statement available from Medicare online or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app. Evidence of immunisation status must be dated 2020. Under the Commonwealth Government direction, aged care providers are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person does not enter or remain on the premises if they do not meet the influenza vaccination requirements).
- Conduct visits in the resident’s room, outdoors, or in a specific designated area (not a communal space where the risk of viral transmission to residents is greater);
- Ensure residents have no more than two visitors at a time;
- Practise social distancing practices, including maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres;
- Not visit or attempt to enter our facilities if you are unwell or have not received an influenza vaccination.
In addition, and in accordance with Commonwealth Government advice:
- No group visits or gatherings, including social activities or entertainment, and external excursions are permitted at this time;
- Visits by children aged 16 years or less are not permitted except in exceptional circumstances.
It is important to also note that:
· A recent negative COVID-19 test does not guarantee that the person is still negative; and
· A person with very mild symptoms, or even no symptoms, can be infected or transmitting the COVID-19 virus.
Where possible and within our finite resources, residents will continue to be supported to stay connected with family and friends by phone and video calls. Where necessary, families may wish to consider providing their loved ones with a personal electronic device (IPAD, Iphone, Tablet etc) to assist in this regard. In addition, we will continue to offer window visitations where possible. Applications for additional or altered visitation times due to palliative care or exceptional circumstances will be considered on an individual basis by residential aged care facility managers.
The health of staff continues to be closely monitored, new and returning residents will be screened before entry, and signage and other forms of communication are being used to explain the steps being taken to protect the health of our residents.
Despite our best efforts, please understand it may be necessary for further restrictions to be placed on visitor access in exceptional circumstances, such as by Government direction, our facilities experiencing an influenza and/or COVID-19 outbreak, an influenza and/or COVID-19 outbreak in the area in which a particular facility is located or an increase in infections in the broader region.
I note recent remarks attributed to the Prime Minister, Mr Morrison that the national cabinet will meet Friday the 8th May 2020 to discuss the easing of COVID-19 baseline community restrictions. This may lead to a subsequent easing of visit restrictions and screening measures imposed by the Commonwealth Government on residential aged care facilities nationally. If, and when this occurs we may be able to implement appropriate broader visit protocols in our residential care facilities.
In closing, thank you for your continued patience and co-operation during this terrible pandemic and again, please be assured our primary concern is that of our residents, their families and staff.
Kevin Davidson MVO, OAM
Chief Executive Officer