We continue to live with COVID-19, state borders are opening and more people are travelling to visit their loved ones. Facilitating safe visitation and open communication with residents and their families and representatives is crucial.
Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF)
- Providers should make sure that visitation to RACF is well supported. Access to RACF by visitors is essential to reduce the impacts of social isolation on elderly people. Visitors provide aged care residents with a range of benefits including providing emotional support and supporting physical activity.
- Any restrictions on visiting should be in-line with (and not exceed) the public health orders in their location. Residents and their families should be allowed, as much as possible, all the freedoms available to others in the community.
- Screening all people on entry to a residential aged care facility is important to limit risks while still allowing access. Providers should regularly review screening arrangements to keep them up to date and effective.
- Essential carers can still access a service during a lockdown and should be assisted with access to PPE and supervised. Families should also be supported to make end of life visits.
- Helpful resources:
- the Industry Code for Visitation in Residential Aged Care Facilities provides detailed advice on how to support safe visitation.
Communicating with family during an outbreak
- All aged care services should prepare their communication systems in case they have a COVID-19 outbreak.
- In the event of a COVID-19 case, you need to inform:
- residents or consumers
- staff and contractors
- primary family contacts
- resident advocates (if a resident with cognitive impairment)
- any identified stakeholders such as executive management team, other co-located services i.e. retirement villages, primary medical care providers.
- Your outbreak management plan should have some pre-prepared email templates already drafted for this initial communication, personalised for your service and including contact phone numbers.
- Inform staff that they should not work at any other facility during the outbreak.
- Providers with multiple services should consider whether communications are required for the other sites
Report the outbreak to the Department of Health by emailing agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au within an hour.
Other helpful resources:
- The National COVID-19 Residential Aged Care Emergency Communication Guide provides guidance on communication in advance of, and during, a COVID-19 outbreak.
- Guidance from the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre on how to establish and maintain communications in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
- Advice from the ACQSC on lessons learned from previous outbreaks