IRT’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19 – UPDATE
We’d like to thank our residents and their families and friends for their cooperation and understanding regarding the visitation restrictions we have implemented in response to the COVID-19 situation.
Although we recognise how difficult this has been, we are pleased that these measures, combined with vigilant infection control practices, have contributed to a zero COVID-19 infection rate within our aged care centres to date.
With the Australian Government reporting a sustained low spread of COVID-19 in our communities, we now have greater confidence to ease visitation restrictions, and will be implementing new arrangements from Monday 11 May.
From Monday, we will be allowing visits for those family members or resident representatives who are regular weekly visitors. If you are a regular weekly visitor, please contact your Care Manager to arrange your visit.
As has always been the case, we will continue to make special arrangements for compassionate visits. However, where our aged care centres are located within designated COVID-19 hotspots, additional visitation restrictions may apply.
As our residents are extremely vulnerable to the deadly effects of both COVID-19 and influenza, we ask that all visitors comply with the following:
- Provide evidence of current influenza vaccination (this is a government requirement)
- Visits will be limited to 30 minutes, between 11am – 12.30pm and 4pm-5.20pm, Monday to Friday (exceptions to these times may be made for compassionate circumstances)
- No more than 2 visitors as one time per resident (including doctors) and no visitors under 16, as per current government legislation.
- Only next of kin or nominated representatives will be allowed to visit at this time.
- Visits must take place in a resident’s single room, a designated visitor room or outdoors.
- Visitors must wash their hands thoroughly before entering and leaving the aged care centre or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Visitors must maintain social distancing (1.5 metres), unless providing personal care (such as assisting with meals).
- Visitors are asked to wear clean clothes and not stop off anywhere on the way to their visit.
- We recommend you do not take your loved one out on social leave unless for an essential medical reason.
Please DO NOT visit any of our aged care centres if you or anyone you have been in contact with is feeling unwell with symptoms of a cold, flu or COVID-19.
We will continue to review our visitation arrangements based on indicators of risk including rates of community transmission, rates of aged care infection and the availability of infection control resources.
Our teams are doing a great job of facilitating initiatives such as window visits and video calls with families and ensuring our residents are getting out of their rooms and socialising with each other. We will continue to work with families to ensure contact is maintained with their loved ones during this time.
Gifts and Flowers
We are still accepting gifts and sealed packaged food that can be wiped down and disinfected before being given to our residents.
We will also accept gifts of flowers.
If you have any questions please call our Customer Service Team on 134 478.
We acknowledge the Prime Minister’s recent media statements regarding visitation arrangements at residential aged care centres and recognise that the Government’s view on what is appropriate is different from the decision IRT has taken to restrict aged care centre visits to compassionate visits only.
We continue to review this decision in light of all available information regarding COVID-19; however we still believe that the current risk posed to our residents and employees from visitation is too high to relax our stance.
Older people and those with existing medical conditions are most at risk from COVID-19. Unfortunately the majority of our residents fall into both these categories.
Our only motivation in keeping these restrictions in place is to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak at our aged care centres. We remain single minded in our commitment to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees.
We will continue to facilitate compassionate visits for residents who are receiving palliative care.
We are also continually monitoring the health and wellbeing of all residents and will arrange compassionate visits for any resident whose physical or mental health is being affected by the current restrictions. This includes residents who aren’t eating properly and those living with dementia who are experiencing agitation and cannot be settled by staff members.
All requests for compassionate visits are being managed by Care Managers at each aged care centre and escalated to regional Business Managers for a decision as appropriate. We encourage family members and friends to get in touch with our Care Managers to check on the health and wellbeing of their loved one, or to request a compassionate visit.
We are also putting in place a range of measures to keep residents engaged and active during this time. These include:
- Increased one-on-one activities with lifestyle staff
- Corridor activities, such as bingo and sing-a-longs
- ANZAC services and other activities, including poppy walls and gardens
- ‘Window’ visits for family members, including bringing residents to areas of the aged care centre where this type of visit can take place
- Facetime visits and phone calls
- Letter writing programs with local schools.
We have also reintroduced small group activities.
Once again, we’d like to reinforce that the decisions we have made regarding visitation are being made in good faith, with the best interests of our residents at heart.
We’d like to thank our residents and their families and friends for their cooperation as we work through this very difficult and unprecedented situation
The Australian Government has mandated that everyone entering a residential aged care centre from 1 May 2020 must have had their flu vaccination.
We will be rolling out our mandatory flu vaccination program for all aged care centre employees over the next few weeks; however these new Government regulations also mean that anyone wanting to visit an aged care centre resident will also need to be vaccinated.
While visitor restrictions are still in place at our aged care centres at this time, we are contacting family members so we can prepare for the time when we are able to lift the restrictions and recommence visits.
As an approved provider of residential aged care, we will need to seek evidence of immunisation status from all visitors, while ever this Government regulation remains in place. We are therefore asking family members and friends that may wish to visit one of our residents in the future to get a letter or certificate from their health practitioner when they get their flu vaccination.
We may also be able to accept other evidence of immunisation such as a Medicare immunisation history record.
Gift and Meal Deliveries
We understand that the restrictions we have placed on the delivery of gifts and meals to residents have been upsetting for some residents and families.
We have taken your feedback on board, and while this is still not encouraged, we will be allowing gifts and packaged food to be delivered to our aged care centres, as long as these are sealed and can be appropriately disinfected. These arrangements will be at the discretion of our regional Business Managers.
Thank you once again for your patience and cooperation as we try to do our very best for your loved ones in our care.
As a result of the latest announcement from the Australian Government (29/03/2020) urging people over 70 years of age to self-isolate, and limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to 2 people, we have made the following additional changes at our residential aged care centres:
- Residents will no longer be able to leave the aged care centre for appointments or social reasons. Residents may only leave the aged care centre to attend medical appointments of a critical clinical nature that are unsuitable for telehealth.
- All visits from non-essential service and entertainment providers, including hairdressers have been postponed.
- Use of resident lounges and activity rooms is discouraged, and limited to 2 residents at any time.
- Any non-essential gatherings of residents have been discontinued.
- Resident dining will continue in dining rooms at this stage; however social distancing of 1 person per every 4 sqm will be adhered to wherever possible.
- Gift and meal deliveries can no longer be accepted directly at our aged care centres. We do however, encourage families to keep sending letters, cards and photos through the mail.
In addition, all employees and essential contractors are also subject to wellness screening before entering our aged care centres. This includes a temperature check, confirmation that they have not returned from overseas in the last 14 days and have not been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
Existing visitation restrictions are still in place and must be strictly adhered to. These are:
- No visitors – except for compassionate visitation (eg family members of our palliative care residents)
- Arrangements for compassionate visitation:
- Restricted hours
- Limit of 2 visitors at one time per day
- No children under 16
- No visitors with flu-like symptoms or a temperature over 37.50C
- Wellness screening of all visitors, including temperature check and confirmation that they have not returned from overseas in the last 14 days and have not been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Visits are to take place in the resident’s room or outside areas of the aged care centre.
- Compassionate visitation for new admissions is restricted to one visit on the day of admission.
If you have any questions, please call our Customer Service team 134 478.
Residential Aged Care Centre Visitation Arrangements
The health and wellbeing of our residents and employees remains our highest priority.
Due to the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we have implemented the following visitor restrictions at our Aged Care Centres:
• No visitors – the only exception at this time is for compassionate visitation, such as family members of our palliative care residents
• Arrangements for compassionate visitation:
– restricted hours
– limit of two visitors at one time per day
– no children under the age of 16.
If you have any questions about this notice, please call 134 478.
IRT is reinforcing its infection control procedures and is monitoring all advice from the Australian Government Department of Health.
All employees, visitors and contractors are asked to stay away from IRT sites if they are unwell. Anyone who has recently arrived in Australia from overseas should not visit an IRT site for 14 days after the date of arrival, and self-isolate as per Australian Government requirements.
IRT is well placed to manage infection control. Every year, we prepare to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases such as influenza and gastroenteritis. Our teams are well trained in infection control and attend regular refresher training. We are continually monitoring all employees and procedures to limit the potential impact of COVID-19.
If you have any concerns please call our Customer Service team on 134 478.
Additional information is available here:
- Latest Australian Government advice, information and resources: health.gov.au
- Latest Australian Government Coronavirus health information: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus
- Coronavirus Health Information Line: Phone 1800 020 080 (This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.)
- Latest Australian Government advice, information and resources: health.gov.au
- For public health phone numbers in each state or territory: health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts
- Travel advice updates and alerts: http://www.health.gov.au/covid19-travellers