Message to our Opal family: Tuesday 7 April 2020

We are greatly saddened that both our residents who had been receiving care at Liverpool Hospital for the past fortnight, have now passed away as a result of COVID-19. They will be dearly missed.

The deepest sympathies of our whole Opal team, and particularly our devoted frontline nurses and carers, are with their families at this challenging time. Our team strives to give the care, comfort and human connection that lies at the heart of human well-being, and it is heart-rending when people we have grown close to pass away.

We would like to extend our thanks to the dedicated team at Liverpool Hospital for their excellent care, and to the team at our Bankstown home, who have been caring for our on-site residents and keeping them and their relatives closely informed since the first case was confirmed on Sunday 22 March.

We would also like to confirm the following for our wider care community.

  • There have been five cases relating to Opal Bankstown; two residents, and three team members. Both residents have sadly passed.
  • Of the three team members, two cases were confirmed in March, and the third on Saturday evening. All three are self-isolating at home under medical care. We are working with the Public Health Unit on contact tracing.
  • No residents nor any other team member in the care home have COVID-19.

We thank our team and pay tribute to all frontline health workers for their dedication, compassion, and fortitude in service to our communities during these difficult times.


An update on Restricted Access to our care homes Wednesday 1 April 2020

resident access

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to our families and local communities for your support as we strive to protect our residents and team from the spread of COVID-19. We recognise how difficult it is to be separated from loved ones. We are heartened by the response from our families in adopting different ways of communicating while our homes are under Restricted Access. Seeing our residents faces light up when receiving FaceTime or Skype calls is wonderful, and we know how important these moments are for families as well.

We first put Restricted Access in place on 18 March 2020 as a precautionary measure based on advice from the Commonwealth and State Departments of Health, and in light of the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in Australia.

As difficult as it was to make this decision, we have no doubt that it was the right one for our residents and team. At that time there were 564 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. Today, there have been 4,763 confirmed cases. 

We are reviewing the situation daily, working closely with our Federal, State, and Public Health Units and the advice of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, in our response to COVID-19. We must keep the safety and care of our residents, team and frontline health workers in our communities at the forefront of our actions. 

Based on these reviews, and the increasing restrictions on public movement imposed by the Federal and State governments, Restricted Access to our care home will remain in place until further notice.

We will continue to provide every possible assistance to help families stay connected with loved ones in our care. We also continue to find new and stimulating ways to keep our residents engaged in things that they’re interested in, in meaningful ways. We will share some of these activities with families in upcoming communications.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or ideas about how you would like to stay connected with your loved one during Restricted Access, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the care home. You can submit an enquiry form here


Further Restricted Access to all Opal care homes: Friday 27 March 2020

Resident gardening at OpalRaynbird

Given the rapidly rising rate of COVID-19 in Australia, we must all act for the greater good of everyone. That means doing all we can to protect our residents, team, families and all health workers in our communities who are at the front line of our COVID-19 defence. For this reason, we have taken the decision to further restrict the level of access to our care homes until further notice. 

We understand that this is an anxious time for many people and we thank everyone for their understanding as we continually strive to make our homes the safest place possible for our residents and team. 

As well as focusing on the physical and clinical aspects of care, we are very conscious of the need to find new or different ways to nurture social connections and stimulation for each individual while Restricted Access is in place. We are using technology for activities within our homes and to help relatives stay in touch with their loved ones through phone, FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. 

Advice for residents and relatives during Restricted Access

Restricted Access incorporates the existing measures put in place on 18 March, together with the following measures to help keep our residents and team safe. Effective as of Friday 27 March:

Visitors to our home

Given the increasing amount of community transmission of COVID-19, we have made the decision that no visitors will be allowed to enter our care homes while Restricted Access is in place. The only exceptions are when a resident is receiving end of life care or on the first day of a new resident’s admission. In those cases, certain time frames must be observed and any required PPE worn.

Spatial distancing and activities

Where practicable we will apply spatial distancing principles for residents (one resident per 4 square metres). Communal dining will still be available in the dining room but with only one resident per table. Mealtimes will be extended to enable this. Buffet service has ceased and internal cafes are operating as takeaway only for residents and teams. Wellness Centre programs will be suspended during Restricted Access. 

Keeping our home safe for residents

We will continue to maintain essential services during Restricted Access. This includes services required to ensure our home remains safe and operational, for example:

  • Medication and food delivery; essential plant, systems, and equipment repairs; fire equipment compliance 
  • Service providers and suppliers will be instructed to observe spatial distancing while they are in our home and all visits will be facilitated by a member of the care home Leadership Team (including active screening, visitor logs, and other relevant procedures)

Maintaining our residents’ social and family connections

We recognise how vital it is to maintain our residents’ connections and the relationships that are meaningful to them. Our team will continue to focus on finding creative ways to keep our residents engaged and stimulated in ways that best meet their individual needs and preferences.

Other precautions we are taking

  • Our residents are checked twice daily for temperature and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Our team members are working in designated areas to reduce the range of individual contacts for our residents.
  • No external appointments are possible unless they are of a critical clinical nature.
  • We regret that gifts and meal deliveries can no longer be accepted directly at our care homes. We do however encourage families to keep in touch by sending letters and cards through the mail.

We know how difficult it is for our residents and families to be apart from loved ones at this time and appreciate everyone’s understanding that these steps are necessary for the wellbeing of our residents, team and our wider community. 

If you would like to arrange communication with a loved one in our care, please contact the team at the care home and they will provide every assistance. 

 

Useful links

Dept. of Health coronavirus health alerts

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

Dept. of Health information for older Australians

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-older-australians

Dept. of Health coronavirus FAQs

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-frequently-asked-questions

Department of Health coronavirus translated resources

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/translated

WHO information on cleaning your hands to prevent infection

https://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/

Dementia Australia information for family and friends of people living with dementia

https://www.dementia.org.au/files/helpsheets/DA_COVID19_Helpsheet_01_carers_family_friends_PLWD_FA-v2.pdf

Looking after your mental health from Beyond Blue

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

 

Translation for this article

Assyrian  |  ܐܵܬܘܿܪܵܝܵܐ

Arabic | العربية

Chinese | 简体中文

Croatian | Hrvatski

Greek | Ελληνικά

Italian | Italiano

Korean  |  한국어

Portuguese  | Português

Spanish  | Español

 


Restricted Access to all Opal care homes is effective: Saturday 18 March, 2020

Jean gardening

Opal is implementing Restricted Access in all of our care homes effective at 5 pm today (local time in all States) for a period of at least two weeks.

While the majority of people who have contracted the virus around the world have recovered, it is our elders who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Therefore we must be hyper-vigilant in our actions to protect all of those we care for against the spread of the virus.

Thank you for helping us to make our care homes the safest place possible for our residents and team. Please be assured that we will manage these restrictions together with each resident and their loved ones with the utmost care and compassion.

No Opal residents or team have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time.

Advice for residents and relatives during Restricted Access

You may be familiar with the Restricted Access environment as it is similar to measures we take when there is a cluster of symptoms or cases of other infectious illnesses in the home.

Effective 5 pm Wednesday 18 March 2020 (local time in all States), the following measures will apply:

Visitors to our home

Visitors will not be allowed to enter our care home while Restricted Access is in place, unless under exceptional circumstances. 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. 

Keeping our home safe for residents

We will continue to maintain essential services during this period of Restricted Access. This includes services required to ensure our homes remain safe and operational, for example:

  • Medication and food delivery; essential plant, systems, and equipment repairs; fire equipment compliance
  • Service providers and suppliers will be instructed to observe social distancing while they are in our homes and all visits will be facilitated by a member of our care home Leadership Team (including active screening, visitor logs, and other relevant procedures)

Compassionate care

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.

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.

Please be assured that specific plans will be developed 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 you to visit safely as long as you are well and haven’t been in direct contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

Please call your care home General Manager directly to discuss any individual circumstances.

Maintaining residents’ social and family connections

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 our home, including using technology for socialisation. Our team will continue to focus on keeping our residents engaged and stimulated in ways that best meet their individual needs and preferences.

We encourage you to stay in contact with your loved ones and we can organise phone, FaceTime or Skype calls so that you can speak with one another directly. Our team will also provide regular updates for relatives and representatives via phone or email.

An Opal team member from your care home will be in touch with you within the next 24 hours to talk through your communication needs.

Lifestyle activities and outings

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.

Reviewing our Restricted Access measures

Restricted Access will be in place for a period of at least two weeks from 5pm Wednesday 18 March. 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 you when that decision is made.

Other precautions we are taking

In addition to the measures we have shared with you in previous communications, we have implemented additional cleaning of high touch point areas in our home and are encouraging our teams to practice social distancing in the community. We will also shortly commence temperature checking prior to entering our care homes for all team and visitors to our care home.

Thank you for your support as we strive to protect all of those we care for from COVID-19. If you have any questions or concerns, or need to discuss your individual circumstances, please your care home General Manager directly, or submit your enquiry via the link on this page.

Translation for this article

Assyrian  |  ܐܵܬܘܿܪܵܝܵܐ

Arabic | العربية

Chinese | 简体中文

Greek | Ελληνικά

Italian | Italiano

Korean  |  한국어

Portuguese  | Português

Spanish  | Español

 

 


Restrictions to visitors to our care homes: Friday 17 March 2020

Further advice for our residents, relatives, representatives and community partners

As you will be aware, we have already put in place a number of measures to protect the health and safety of our residents and team.

The Minister for Aged Care, the Hon Richard Colbeck, yesterday encouraged providers to limit visitors to residential aged care, under national guidelines aimed at the prevention and control of COVID-19.

Given the risks to older Australians from COVID-19, particularly those with chronic disease and other frailties, we now recommend that residential aged care providers restrict visitor access,” Minister Colbeck said.

Our plan is to slow the spread, to save lives.”

The Commonwealth Department of Health is expected to finalise more detailed guidance around restricted visitor access very shortly. Whilst we understand how very important visits are to residents and families, and the prospect of restrictions may be concerning to you, we also recognise that as carers for the people in our community who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, we must be hyper-vigilant in our response.

We will be implementing restricted visits to our care home within the next 48 hours. We are taking the advice of the relevant authorities to finalise our restricted access plans and will provide you with details of what those restrictions entail as soon as we can.

We recognise that each person’s circumstances are individual and assure you that our team will manage these restrictions with the utmost care and compassion.

If you are involved in the care of a resident with particular needs, please discuss any concerns directly with your care home General Manager.

Thank you for working with us to help protect the safety of all of those we care for as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

Translation for this article

Assyrian  |  ܐܵܬܘܿܪܵܝܵܐ

Arabic | العربية

Chinese | 简体中文

Greek | Ελληνικά

Italian | Italiano

Korean  |  한국어

Portuguese  | Português

Spanish  | Español


Updated advice regarding COVID-19: Thursday 9 March 2020

Corona virus text

Further advice for our residents, relatives, representatives and community partners

(Translations available below).

We continue to follow the advice of the Commonwealth and State Departments of Health and to exercise extra vigilance in our care homes around infection control. Please be aware that the situation is constantly evolving and we are refining our own plans at Opal as this advice changes. Be assured that we already have robust plans in place in our care homes to manage more common outbreaks and many of the same processes apply to COVID-19.

Infection control measures in place

Active screening at entrances to care homes and Opal Home Office

Notices at care home entrances advise that anyone who wishes to enter the home and has:

  • travelled to or through countries identified as high-risk for COVID-19, or
  • had contact with someone who has is not permitted to come inside, should self-isolate for 14 days from day of arrival in Australia and seek advice from their medical practitioner.

Hand hygiene

This is one of our strongest defences against the spread of COVID-19. All visitors must sanitise their hands at the hand sanitising stations at the entrances to our homes before coming inside, and regularly while inside.

Training for Opal Team

  • We are reinforcing our regular focus on training including our Hand Hygiene Tool Box Talks and mandatory online infection control modules.

Updated Opal Travel Policy

Our policy restricts air travel to essential business travel only to help reduce exposure to large groups of people moving around interstate and overseas. The Policy has been distributed to all Team.

  • Care home General Managers and Care Managers have ceased all business travel in order to ensure consistent leadership presence in the home and to remain available for residents, Team and families should you have any questions or concerns.
  • Team members who have travelled to countries identified as high-risk for COVID-19 are required to self-isolate for 14 days (not attend work) and seek medical advice. Team are asked to follow travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and advise their manager of any planned overseas travel. 

Large meetings or gatherings in the care home

  • We have increased the use of digital technology to stay connected through online meetings to reduce large internal face to face meetings.
  • We are limiting groups coming into our care homes (eg, school groups involving children, residents from other care homes).
  • Preventative screening is the key for keeping our residents and team safe. This means strict adherence to signage on all entry/exit points to the care home is required and this is being monitored by the care home’s leadership team.  

Other employment

Team members have been asked to disclose to their General Manager whether they work at or visit any other aged care homes, medical facilities, or other place of employment (apart from Opal) on a regular basis. It is not uncommon for aged care workers to have more than one place of employment and this measure will help our leadership teams to be aware of other environments our team may frequent.

How you can help

If you experience flu-like symptoms

  • Do not visit the care home. Seek medical attention, even if you feel you are most likely suffering the effects of a cold or other respiratory illness.
  • Cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow when coughing or sneezing, dispose of tissues safely, and if unwell avoid close contact with others.
  • Follow the Hand Hygiene advice provided by the World Health Organisation at all times.

Please follow our advice when visiting our care home

  • Ensure you adhere to the advice provided at the entrance to our care home.

For further information 

Thank you for your understanding and for complying with our advice. The attached FAQ provides further information for anyone wishing to visit our care home. Also attached is advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and a copy of the signage displayed outside our care homes. The WHO provides information on COVID-19 that is updated regularly, including this video which may be helpful:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

As always, our care team are here to support you and your loved ones. The wellbeing of our residents is core to our care and if you have any queries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us directly below.

Translation for this article

Assyrian  |  ܐܵܬܘܿܪܵܝܵܐ

Arabic | العربية

Chinese | 简体中文

Greek | Ελληνικά

Italian | Italiano

Korean  |  한국어

Portuguese  | Português

Spanish  | Español


Novel coronavirus precautions in our care homes: Tuesday 3 March 2020

 Washing hands

Advice for our residents, relatives, representatives and community.

(Translations available below).

We appreciate that the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world may be concerning for you and your loved ones. We have been, and continue to follow the advice of the Commonwealth and State Departments of Health in applying precautionary measures in our care homes. 

Protecting the health of our residents and team is core to our care. We are monitoring advice from the health authorities on a daily basis. We continue to monitor our residents and document all clinical observations. As the annual flu season approaches, these measures will also help to prevent the spread of influenza which can affect our residents, families, and team.

We have displayed notices of advice regarding COVID-19 at the front and rear entrances of our care homes since 31 January 2020. We ask that you help us protect those we care for by adhering to these procedures.

  • Families, visitors, suppliers and Opal team members who have recently visited or transited through China, South Korea, Italy or Iran, or have been in close contact with someone who has, will not be able to visit our home for at least 14 days from the day of arrival back in Australia.
  • If you need to self-isolate, we will arrange for you to speak with your loved one via FaceTime, Skype or other available means.
  • Hand hygiene is one of our strongest defences. All visitors and team members must sanitise their hands at the hand sanitising stations at the entrances to our home before coming inside. As an extra precaution, we have increased hand hygiene and infection control practices inside our home. 
  • If you experience flu-like symptoms (such as fever, cough or sore throat), please do not visit our care home. Ensure you seek medical attention even if you feel you are most likely suffering the effects of a cold or other respiratory illness.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, dispose of tissues safely, and if unwell avoid close contact with others.

As this is an evolving situation, we will provide updates as conditions change.

Please refer to the Australian Government Department of Health website if you would like further general information on coronavirus. 
https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

Translation for this article

Assyrian  |  ܐܵܬܘܿܪܵܝܵܐ

Arabic | العربية

Chinese | 简体中文

Greek | Ελληνικά

Italian | Italiano

Korean  |  한국어

Portuguese  | Português

Spanish  | Español

All other enquiries may be made with us directly below.