We are following the advice of the Prime Minister issued today (18 March 2020) to restrict access to our home to protect our residents and team from the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Limiting contact with others in community is one of our best defences against COVID-19.
It applies to ALL Opal care homes effective 5pm Wednesday 18 March, 2020 (local time in each State) for a minimum of two weeks.
It means care homes will operate under similar principles as we do when there is an outbreak of an infectious illness in a care home.
All essential services will remain in place and visitors delivering those essential services in our homes will be subject to the same active screening that is already in place for COVID-19. This includes:
- Opal care team and support team rostered to work in that home
- Medical and professional health services and deliveries
- Medical and food delivery
- Essential plant, systems, and equipment repairs
- Fire equipment compliance
- Relatives and representatives (unless in exceptional circumstances approved by the care home General Manager)
- Social groups and community partners
- Volunteers (unless under exceptional circumstances approved by the General Manager)
We recognise that everyone’s circumstances are individual, and some residents and relatives may be concerned at the prospect of a period without regular visits. Exceptional circumstances include:
- Where specific plans are implemented by the General Manager for residents or families who have particular needs, including residents with different or complex communication needs.
- In cases where the need to visit a loved one overrides safety concerns, for example when a resident is receiving end of life care, we will arrange for family to visit safely as long as they are well, are not subject to any self-isolation requirements (eg for travel) and haven’t been in direct contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
- The family/representative of residents who move into the care home during Restricted Access who are supporting the resident in their transition into care
- Visitors must comply with the advice from the Commonwealth, which is
- Limiting visits to a short duration.
- Limiting visits to a maximum of two immediate social supports (family members, close friends) or professional service or advocacy at one time, per day;
- Visits should be conducted in a resident's room, outdoors, or in a specific area designated by the care home, rather than communal areas where the risk of transmission to residents is greater.
Exceptional circumstances must be discussed directly with the care home General Manager to determine whether visitation will be possible and if so, to ensure its safe facilitation.
All visitors to the home are required to log in using the Visitor Log on entry to the care home, sanitise hands regularly and exercise social distancing while they are in the home.
The same Restricted Access measures apply to Opal Wellness Centres. That is, external visitors will not be able to enter our Wellness Centres while our homes are under Restricted Access. Residents can continue to use the Wellness Centres as per normal.
All essential service providers have been notified of our Restricted Access procedures. Service providers and suppliers will be instructed to observe social distancing while they are in our home and all visits will be facilitated by a member of our care home Leadership Team (including active screening, visitor logs and other relevant procedures)
Yes. Residents with appointments with external health providers will continue to have access to those appointments. These will be managed on an individual basis to ensure the resident’s safety and wellbeing.
In either circumstance, further communication would occur at the point of a positive test being received.
We understand how important it is to maintain our residents’ connections and the relationships that are meaningful to them, particularly during a period of restricted access. We already have a variety of purposeful activities in place that our residents engage in in our homes, including using technology for socialisation.
Our care home teams will continue to focus on keeping our residents engaged and stimulated in ways that best meet their individual needs and preferences.
Our Home Office and regional teams will continue to provide support to care homes on a daily basis.
Yes. In addition to the existing ways in which residents and relatives stay connected outside of visitations, the following applies:
- We encourage relatives and representatives to stay in contact with their loved ones and we will organise phone, FaceTime or Skype calls as needed.
- Each care home has set up an internal Communications team to provide regular updates for relatives and representatives via phone or email.
Our meaningful life activities are part of the heart of our home and we will ensure that we continue to enable stimulating and engaging activities for our residents. However, regrettably, we have put some activities on hold based on our risk assessment, including:
Visits by external groups, including school children and mothers groups
- Events where community visitors come into the home
- Visits from external performers, entertainers or other social groups
- Bus and other external social outings
- Hairdressing and other salon services delivered by external providers
Other lifestyle activities are being reviewed in line with social distancing considerations. We are focusing on small groups, online, technology-enabled and 1:1 activities, as well as utilising outdoor spaces within the care home as much as possible.
Restricted Access will be in place for a period of at least two weeks from 5pm Wednesday 18 March (local time in each State). After this period we will review the situation, taking into consideration the public health advice available. If it is necessary to extend the Restricted Access period we will advise team, residents and relatives when that decision is made.
Our Home Office and regional teams are continuing to support care home team and operations as per normal. In addition:
- Opal’s Business Continuity Plan is in place for Restricted Access
- Daily Opal Leadership team stand-ups
- Daily HO Leadership teleconference with all care home GMs
- We are putting in place strategies to support care home resourcing
- We are working with all our suppliers to manage stock shortages and ensure continuity of supply for all other medical, operational and food supplies
- Sydney Home Office is applying remote working measures to protect against risk of Home Office team being subject to home isolation
- We are communicating regularly with government and health department authorities, peak bodies, unions, suppliers, contractors and other stakeholders regarding our COVID-19 response and business continuity
In addition to the measures already implemented in your care home and at Home Office, we have implemented additional cleaning of high touch point areas in our care homes and Home Office, and we expect our teams to practice social distancing in community.
We will also shortly commence temperature checking prior to entering our home, for all team and visitors to our care home.
‘Social distancing’ refers to the way we can help reduce the spread of germs across the community. Given our role caring for the most vulnerable people in society we have a responsibility to practice the highest level of vigilance. This means practicing the following measures:
- Sanitise your hands wherever possible, including entering and leaving buildings and public transport
- Avoid large gatherings of people
- Use Tap and Pay rather than handling money
- Try to travel at quiet times and try to avoid crowds
- Consider whether outings and travel, both individual and family, are sensible and necessary
- Visit shops sparingly
- Educate your family or those you live with to do the same to help protect one another.
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