Today’s newsletter includes advice on how to access the Australian Government’s new grief, loss and bereavement support for people affected by COVID-19 in aged care.
This edition also contains information on upcoming webinars for the aged care sector; one hosted by the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and another two by the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) in collaboration with Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA).
There is information on a new discussion paper released by Dementia Australia examining the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of people living with dementia, as well as an update on the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s extension of assessment contacts to home care providers.
Again we encourage you to share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams. And encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can also view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter.
Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.
- What’s new:
- Grief, Loss and Bereavement Support for those affected by COVID-19 in the aged care sector
- OPAN webinar - Aged care visits during COVID-normal
- Visitor access and resident movement webinars
- Extending assessment contacts to Home Care providers
- Dementia Australia – Discussion paper on mental health impacts of COVID
Grief, Loss and Bereavement Support for those affected by COVID-19 in the aged care sector
Following on from recent announcements about grief and trauma support for aged care recipients, their loved ones and aged care staff; a reminder about the grief, loss and bereavement counselling services available and how to access them:
- PHONE COUNSELLING: The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB) has a free grief, loss and bereavement support service available on 1800 22 22 00. Callers will be triaged and directed to self-care resources, group counselling or 1:1 counselling sessions with a bereavement practitioner via telehealth, video call, or in person.
- ACGB has bi-lingual staff who can currently work with clients in Arabic, Czech, Farsi, French, Italian, Japanese, Maltese, Sinhali, Tamil, Spanish and Yiddish. Request your preferred language when phoning, otherwise TIS can be used to support other preferred languages.
- ACGB is also available to help aged care providers, religious and community groups who need help tailoring strategies to support their organisations and communities with grief and loss due to COVID-19.
- ACGB supports the use of Auslan for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
- PHONE APP: The free “My Grief” app provides tools to support people who are bereaved, and also provides strategies on how loved ones can support someone experiencing grief and loss.
- INFORMATION: There are COVID-19 specific grief and trauma fact sheets available on the ACGB website at: www.aged.grief.org.au.
Flyers and posters are being created to support providers in raising awareness of the available supports to your residents, families and staff. We will continue to share information as further resources are developed.
OPAN webinar - Aged care visits during COVID-normal
Australians living in aged care facilities across the country have the right to spend time with their loved ones, but restrictions put in place to protect them during the COVID-19 pandemic have made it challenging to stay connected.
Guidelines around visits to people living in aged care have been revised to make it easier for friends, families and service providers to ensure older Australians can safely spend time with the people they love.
The Older Person’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) is hosting a free webinar on Wednesday 2 December, 3.30 – 4.30pm AEDT for aged care residents, their loved ones, service providers and community members.
The panel will discuss what the guidelines mean for people in aged care and their loved ones and how providers can respond to evolving situations in their community. The panel will consist of leaders from across the aged care sector:
- The Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Richard Colbeck
- OPAN CEO, Craig Gear
- Council on the Ageing Australia (COTA) CEO, Ian Yates
- Mercy Health CEO, Stephen Cornelissen
- Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSC) CEO, Pat Sparrow
Panellists will cover the latest advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), how the guidelines should be put into practice and what it means for aged care residents and their loved ones over Christmas. There’ll also be a live question and answer session to address any concerns. Register today to participate.
Visitor access and resident movement webinars
Join the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC) and the Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) for discussion on mitigating risk to enable visitor access and facilitate aged care residents’ movement, and stress testing COVID-19 outbreak plans. These free webinars have been developed for all Australian aged care staff responsible for implementing operational requirements.
- Visitor access and resident movement webinar
Friday 4 December, 1-1:45pm AEDT
- Stress testing your COVID-19 outbreak plan webinar
Friday 11 December, 1-1:45pm AEDT
Extending assessment contacts to Home Care providers
In a letter to aged care providers in South Australia, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has advised that it has expanded its proactive program of telephone assessment contacts to home care providers.
The Commission is closely monitoring the situation in South Australia and has been proactively undertaking a program of telephone assessment contacts since 16 November 2020 to check the preparedness of all residential services for COVID-19 outbreaks. This program was extended to contacting home service providers from 20 November.
Where issues and risks are identified, follow up action will be undertaken to ensure that services can rapidly rectify any deficiencies. The Commission has encouraged all Approved Providers to refresh their understanding of outbreak management planning (guidance specific to residential services is available: Preparing for COVID-19 in residential aged care).
Dementia Australia – Discussion paper on mental health impacts of COVID
Dementia Australia has released a discussion paper examining the mental health impacts of COVID-19 for people living with dementia.
The discussion paper, One Day the Support was Gone…The mental health impact of COVID-19 on people living with dementia, their families and carers, was developed in partnership by the University of Sydney and Dementia Australia. It outlines practical solutions to meet the unique mental health needs of people living with dementia, their families and carers through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Key recommendations include:
- The development of future programs and supports that acknowledge the unique needs of people living with dementia.
- Mitigating isolation and loneliness in people living with dementia and family carers receiving home and residential aged care through ongoing mental health and aged care support services.
- People living with dementia having access to their designated carers by ensuring essential visits are safely integrated back into residential aged care settings following any lockdown period.