Coronavirus up to Date Information for Residents, Friends and Family

Last Updated: 4 April 2020 1507hrs

Please use this page for the most up to date information regarding the Coronavirus and Respect Aged Care. This page will be updated multiple times daily.

It has become exceedingly apparent that traditional methods of communication are failing during the recent outbreak of Coronavirus. Respect Aged Care has created this page as a single source of truth for residents, friends, and family regarding the Coronavirus and steps Respect Aged Care are taking to minimise the risk to our residents.

Newsletter

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Contact

Brett Menzies 0408 562 498 or brett.menzies@respect.com.au.

Current Status

There are currently no suspected or active cases in any aged care home.

There are 5523 confirmed cases in Australia with twenty nine recorded deaths.

CURRENT UPDATE:

Respect have made the difficult decision to remain in full precautionary lockdown for the time being. This decision was made in light of the increasing numbers of cases of Coronavirus in both Tasmania and Victoria and the risk that community borne transmission poses to our residents.

We understand that this decision will cause some anxiety and frustration however the decision hasn’t been made lightly.

We have however created a second category under the exceptional circumstances direction. This second category relates to a situation whereby a resident is at risk of sadness and depression due to missing family and/or social isolation, and this cannot be resolved through other methods. This category applies to the resident expressing these feelings, as opposed to the family member or friend. We understand family and friends may be anxious, but the category is for anxious residents, and therefore decision to allow entry based on this category will be made by Respect following an assessment of assessed need versus potential risk.

In any case, if an exceptional circumstance is assessed under this category or in the context of end of life care, visitors will still be required to;

• book in advance;
• read and understand factsheets on hand hygiene, sneeze and cough etiquette, and social distancing (and a test must be passed prior to entry);
• complete a risk-based questionnaire regarding recent travel and activities;
• have their temperature taken;
• be supervised on entry to ensure proper hand sanitisation;
• maintain social distancing from their loved one of 1.5 meters throughout the duration of their visit;
• only visit their loved one in their room and with no access to public or communal areas, or to visit other residents; and
• wear personal protective equipment if deemed necessary in the future depending on the circumstances.

Visits will be limited to 30 minutes and be required to be conducted between 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, but will be considered in the situation of a resident receiving end of life care with flexibility in this regard applied on a case by case basis. Visitors who don’t comply with these conditions of entry and/or who do not follow the directions of staff will be asked to leave and refused further entry. Whilst we don’t want to be punitive, we must strictly adhere to these measures to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

Respect has deployed extra staff resources within the home to meet the needs of residents at this time.

Please remember you can still call at anytime, or video call by arranging this with the home your loved one resides in.

When talking to your loved one, if you can please reassure them that this is a precautionary measure only, and we are working day and night to ensure their safety whilst having as much social engagement as we can provide in the circumstances.

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What is the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus is a new virus, distinctively different from existing viruses such as Influenza or Gastroenteritis.

Despite reports to the contrary, the Coronavirus is not just like Influenza. Humans have not had previous exposure and therefore have no pre-existing immunity to the virus.

Why have you locked down homes?

The Coronavirus puts elderly people at high risk, particularly those with certain pre-existing conditions. This puts some of our residents at high risk, and to ensure their safety we have decided to lock down our aged care homes to mitigate the risk.

Why aren’t you following the Government’s advice and just restricting access?

The Government has advised aged care providers to remain open during the Coronavirus pandemic, but restrict access to residents. The reasoning for this is because the country, and aged care providers, cannot practically lock down for the expected six month duration of the pandemic.

As you are aware we are currently in a precautionary lock down. This has not changed following the Government’s advice.

Whilst we understand and accept the advice and reasoning on face value, remaining open and restricting access is not a simple measure to implement. Aged care providers are highly equipped to deal with lock downs in the event of a virus outbreak, but we are not equipped to implement measures on the run on a day by day basis. No one is. We therefore must make sure our systems and processes have the capacity to adequately mitigate the risks to the safety of our residents and staff prior to opening any home to the public.

We also feel the right decision currently is to err on the side of caution until we understand more about the virus and its effects on our community, and our aged care homes. We will monitor this situation daily, and make decisions in the best interests of our residents as new information becomes available.

The number of people with coronavirus in Australia and as demonstrated in other countries such as Italy and the US grows exponentially. With such a pattern of growth we are seeing a doubling of the rate of infection of between four and six days. Due to this, and our need to properly implement systems and processes, Respect has decided having our homes open to the public at this time still poses an unacceptable risk to the safety of our residents and staff.

We will therefore prepare our homes to be in the best position to open with restricted access whilst remaining in lock down. We believe this is the most sensible approach to take for the highest standards of safety for our residents and staff. We all must feel 100% comfortable at all times that we are protecting our elderly people, and employees, and putting their safety first in an uncertain time. For us, that is remaining in lock down until we can develop systems to adequately and safely mitigate the significant risks posed to our residents and staff.

Won’t staff bring it in anyway?

Our aim in locking down homes is to limit the potential exposure of our residents to the virus and mitigate the risks as much as possible. We cannot eliminate staff from entering a home as they are required to provide care.

It is possible that staff could bring the virus into a home, however we are taking extreme care to ensure this risk is minimised including having staff wash and sanitise their hands on entry, and many times during a shift, and sanitising touch surfaces on a twice daily basis.

When will you open again?

We have decided to lockdown homes until further advice and information is available. At this time, due to the nature of the pandemic and limited knowledge of effective community strategies to deal with the Coronavirus, homes will be locked down for two weeks.

How can I see or talk to my love one?

Loved ones can still always be contacted by telephone, and during this time we have setup video chat facilities so friends and family can see and talk to their loved one face to face if they wish to do so. If you would like to speak with your loved one by video chat please don’t hesitate to contact the home your loved one resides in so this can be arranged.

We have seen ingenious ideas such as this in other countries where lock downs are occurring:

As a progressive aged care organisation, Respect will investigate all types of ways to keep our residents engaged with their loved ones. Next to their personal safety, their emotional well-being is paramount to us and we encourage family and friends to stay in contact as much as possible during this time.

What are the extenuating circumstances where I can see my loved in the home?

If your loved one is passing away, please contact the aged care home where your loved one resides so we can ensure you see them if you do not pose a risk to other residents. Other extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If the visit is deemed necessary then you will be met at the front entrance, and;

Tasmanian sites only – What should I do if I am currently on the mainland or plan to travel out of Tasmania in the near future?

The Tasmanian Government has declared that from midnight on Friday, 20 March 2020, anyone arriving into Tasmania will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. This includes Tasmanian residents returning home to Tasmania.

Whilst the self-isolation will not apply to essential travelers, including health care workers, at this stage, we believe it will apply to all other non-essential visitors to the state including family of residents.

Are all elderly in general at risk?

It appears as people age so does their chance of having pre-existing conditions, and less fitness to “fight off” the Coronavirus which puts them at higher risk.

What pre-existing condition puts someone at higher risk?

Pre-existing conditions which currently appear to put people at higher risk than others include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, hypertension, and cancer.

Should I be personally worried?

More than 80% of cases experience mild symptoms only.

The mortality rate of persons with no pre-existing conditions appears to be less than 1%, however this may include undiagnosed pre-existing conditions.

People most at risk are those with pre-existing conditions. If you have a pre-existing condition, we recommend considering self-isolation.

How can I help?

The best thing family and friends can do is keep in contact with your loved ones so they do not feel socially isolated. Please remember to reassure them the lock down is precautionary.

You can also follow hygiene instructions from trusted sources, including the the Department of Health and World Health Organization (WHO), to do your part in the community.

Hand Hygiene

Please see the following video for proper hand hygiene using the WHO method.

Cough and Sneeze Etiquette

Please see the following poster for proper cough and sneeze etiquette.

Social Distancing

Social distancing is an important way to mitigate the risks of the virus in the community.