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How is COVID-19 affecting aged care? 

The government and aged care providers are working together to ensure we are all protecting older Australians as best as possible during COVID-19. But what does this mean for people in aged care and their families? 

Below you will find a summary of some of our articles from last year that explains how COVID-19 affects aged care. In turn, how can you continue to visit your loved one whilst they are in aged care during restrictions.  

How Aged Care Providers have been managing COVID-19

Bolton Clarke, one of the aged care providers we work closely with, shared the steps that they had taken both at an organisation and a local site level to prepare and safeguard against coronavirus.

To name a few, these steps include: 

  • Early implementation of enhanced resident protection protocols including screening, temperature checks and hand hygiene protocols for all visitors and employees
  • Updated hand hygiene and PPE training for employees
  • Implementation of new technology for alternative social support, including iPads across all communities
  • Ensuring availability of quarantine beds in case of positive cases in a community

CLICK HERE to read about how Bolton Clarke was helping to ensure the safety of their residents against COVID-19.  

What did our elderly think of Coronavirus in relation to how it has impacted aged care?

Aged Care Decisions received many phone calls and emails from older people and their families in 2020, specifically to discuss the coronavirus situation and their changing needs in relation to it.

For some, it had made them realise that it was time to start looking at additional care options in their own homes.

For others, the virus has prompted them take a proactive approach and start their research into aged care options so they can move into aged care on their own terms.

Overall, in almost all instances, the older people we are speaking with are concerned but practical about coronavirus. You can read more about it HERE.

How to prepare if you are unable to visit a loved one in aged care

Whether your loved one is just settling into aged care or whether they have been enjoying your regular visits for some time, it can be hard for families when separation is forced.

Our Senior Placement Specialist Team Leader Natalia has helped hundreds of families settle into aged care and has four recommendations to ease the stress of not being able to visit your loved one. 

 4 ways to remain connected with your loved one:

  1. Phones/i-pads
  2. Write letters
  3. Items from home
  4. Photos

Click here to read the full article. 

Summary of COVID Visitation at Aged Care

Currently, there is restrictions in place until March 2021 in many states surrounding visitors at aged care. These are in place to help reduce the risk of transmission to residents.  

Those who should not visit aged care facilities are as follows: 

  • have returned from overseas in the past 14 days
  • have been in contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • are unwell, including with a fever or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (such as cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath)
  • have not had a flu vaccination in 2020

Visitors, including spouses, close relatives, and social supports, are permitted to visit, and are limited to two at a time. 

Any visitors must adhere to the following: 

  • Be willing to go through the health screening process
  • Visit in their room, outdoors or in a specific area that is not communal with other residents
  • Must have an influenza vaccination, including children
  • There is no limit to the number of hours you spend with spouse/relative (unless visiting hours are stipulated by the facility)
  • Children of all ages can visit but must follow restriction requirements such as visitor numbers, physical distancing and personal hygiene and must be supervised closely
  • Cough into elbow or tissues and dispose of immediately
  • Wash hands with soap and water, before and after eating, after bathroom visits and try not to touch your face or anything else
  • Physical distancing or social distancing (1.5 metres)
  • Comply with any directions given by facility staff and follow signs

If there is a local case of COVID there may be further restrictions in place to ensure the safety of the residents. This is the best way to stop the community spread of the virus. 

Seeking additional support for mental health

There are some instances when family are unable to visit residents in aged care and there are some loved ones, such as those who suffer from cognitive impairment, who may need additional support. 

Please request some details from your aged care provider of some services available to your loved one during this difficult time. 

Alternatively, you can call the Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500. 

Read more about mental health support for aged care residents here. If you have further concerns about you or your loved one’s health, please see your doctor.  

Emergency leave and when to come home

There are some cases where you might feel that your loved one is best to come home.

The Government has deemed the COVID-19 pandemic as an emergency and has allowed ‘emergency leave’ for permanent aged care residents.

This means they will not need to use their social leave entitlements or pay further fees to secure their place if they leave the facility for a period.   

(Reference: www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts). 

The Government Health website has the most updated information about the current restrictions on aged care facilities, so for more information you can visit the site HERE

 

If you or a loved one needs assistance, information or further clarification about the current restrictions to aged care, fill out this form or give us a call on 1300 775 870.

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