Dear resident or relative,
From next Monday, 16 November 2020, we are further relaxing some of our policies to allow for:
- Residents to receive up to two visits per day, seven days per week, with up to two people on each visit, for a duration of up to one hour each visit.
- Over the next two weeks we will start using QR codes to help in registering visitors. In case of an outbreak, we have been told to have quick electronic access to who has been in any facility and QR codes are the simplest option. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can use our devices to log in.
- Residents will be free to attend small family gatherings of up to 10 other people under some conditions and the time restrictions will be relaxed. We would still like 24 hours’ notice so we can do a risk assessment, as we are required to do.
- Residents will be free to stay overnight after such a family gathering if the resident and their primary family contact are comfortable to do so. Again, we would like at least 24 hours’ notice please, so we can do a risk assessment.
- A relaxation of our COVID testing protocols to reflect current advice from NSW Health.
This week we surveyed residents and these measures received strong support.
The context – the level of risk
The number of cases of community transmission of COVID-19 in NSW over the last four weeks has been 11, 7, 10 and 1 this week. So, while there is some ongoing concern from NSW Health, the number of new cases has been low for some weeks. Let me explain some of these measure in more detail:
- A Further Relaxation of Visitor Restrictions to allow visits twice a day, seven days a week
As you would expect, all existing screening measures and the need to have a current flu vaccination will remain in place.
- Small Family Gatherings
As we pointed out a fortnight ago, the advice from NSW Health is now that “Residents can leave the facility to attend small family gatherings, preferably outdoors and wearing masks where physical distancing is not assured.” We appreciate that there is no exact definition of what a small family gathering is but our recommendation is that for the time being it be up to 10 other people, preferably outdoors and wearing masks where physical distancing is not assured. A fundamental starting point for us will be knowing that the resident wants to attend and feels safe. If the resident is not able to clearly make an informed decision, the nominated family contact needs to agree.
The function cannot be in a hotspot local government area, all attendees will need to be able to comply with visiting restrictions to OLOC facilities and ideally everyone attending will have provided OLOC with evidence of their flu vaccinations.
There will no longer be a three-hour time limit of being away from the facility on these family visits before residents are COVID tested. Please see point number 4 below about a relaxation of our COVID testing protocols.
- Residents Staying Overnight
This measure will only be feasible for a relatively small number of residents and in every case the resident and primary family contact will have to make their own assessments of the risks involved. We are required to do a risk assessment and we would like at least one day’s notice so that we can engage with the resident and the primary family contact in that risk assessment. In our surveying, over 75% of residents were in favour but some residents were concerned about the risks of overnight stays.
- A Relaxation of our COVID testing protocols
Residents who have been out to medical appointments will no longer be required to be COVID tested on their return as long as we have no reason to believe that there is any particular risk associated with the appointment. The resident and any relative accompanying them will be required to wear a mask to the appointment if this is feasible.
Residents who have been away from the facility for more than 24 hours will be closely monitored and will need to restrict their movements for 72 hours, staying out of communal spaces and the eating their meals in their rooms rather than in communal dining rooms.
What can go wrong?
We all know that things can go wrong, so we all have to be cautious.
A fundamental principle for us in this pandemic has been that NSW Health is our primary source of advice and their current advice suggests that the measures set out above are safe. However, at any family gathering someone in the family needs to act as coordinator and make it their business to ensure that there is no one there with any level of cold or flu like symptoms, and no one who is waiting on results of a COVID test. It seems obvious, but family members need to be more cautious than they normally might be. There needs to be hand washing and sanitiser facilities available and there should not be any sharing of food or cutlery. These things are just as important in a family home setting as they are at OLOC.
If after our risk assessment a family proceeds with a family visit that we have concerns about, then we will need to COVID test and isolate the resident when they return.
News of a Vaccine
This week it was great to hear some encouraging news about the likely roll out of COVID vaccines. It is also encouraging that the level of community transmission has stayed low. However, we still have to be cautious until we are able to have that vaccine. I am sure you will understand that in the coming weeks and months if we have reason to be concerned about an increasing risk of community transmission then we will immediately review the measures set out above and tighten our protocols until it is deemed safe again.
If you have any questions or thoughts about issues raised in this letter please raise them with Peter Squire on 9832 5406 or with Jenny Fahy on 9832 5418.
We have come a long way together this year, and there is a little way to go yet. As always, thanks for your support and perseverance.
Chief Executive Officer
13 November 2020
OLOC Aged Care Facilities Visitor Policy from Monday 16 November 2020
On the basis of revised advice from NSW Health, residents can now receive visitors on the following basis:
- The following people are excluded:
- Anyone with a fever 37.5°C or higher, or cold or flu-like symptoms, even mild
- Anyone who has been in Victoria in the previous 14 days (visitors from NSW/VIC border communities are subject to a risk assessment)
- Anyone who has visited any of the venues at the same time as a COVID-19 case listed on the NSW Government website (https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/latest-newsand-updates)
- People who are not excluded under item 1 above can visit on the following basis:
- Having their temperature and health status checked.
- Demonstrating that they have had a current flu vaccination. Usually this will mean that they have registered the details of their flu vaccination with OLOC and that they have obtained a visitor’s card. They also have to produce photo ID when they sign in.
- People who live in or have visited Camden LGA, Liverpool LGA or Wingecarribee LGA in the last 14 days must wear a mask and must be escorted to and from the resident’s room by a staff member.
- Visits can be either in the resident’s room or in our grounds but not in common areas.
- Children can visit, but they must have a current flu vaccination and be under adult supervision at all times during the visit.
- There is a limit of two visits a day per resident, 7 days a week. There can be a maximum of two people visiting at any one time, for up to 1 hour per visit.
- Families can make special arrangements if they have special circumstances such as a resident being in the final stages of palliative care. These arrangements need to be discussed and agreed with the facility’s weekday manager prior to the visit.
- Visits can start from 9.00am and must finish by 5.30pm regardless of when the visit started.
- Social distancing needs to be maintained when you visit.
Over the next two weeks you will be asked to register using a simple QR code. In case of an outbreak we have been told to have quick electronic access to who has been in any facility and QR codes are the simplest option. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can use our devices to log in.
Small Family Gatherings
Residents will be free to attend small family gatherings of up to 10 other people under some conditions and the time restrictions will be relaxed. We would still like 24 hours’ notice so we can do a risk assessment, as we are required to do.
Where it is feasible to do so, residents will be free to stay overnight after such a family gathering if the resident and their primary family contact are comfortable to do so. Again, we would like at least 24 hours’ notice please, so we can do a risk assessment.
We acknowledge and appreciate the ongoing support of residents and relatives in regard to visiting. If residents or relatives have any questions or concerns, they can raise them with the facility manager or with Peter Squire on 9832 5406 during working hours Monday to Friday.
Ongoing Review: OLOC will continue to closely monitor and update this policy as updated advice becomes available.
This policy applies from Monday 16 November 2020
The advice we receive from NSW Health aligns with information on the webpage Latest Covid-19 Case Locations in NSW:
You can log on to this website to check for daily updates and there are three key pieces of information:
- The first is a grey shaded section headed Areas and suburbs with increased testing. If you live in or have been to one of these LGAs or suburbs in the last 14 days then you are not allowed to visit an aged care facility in NSW. As soon as your LGA or suburb drops off this list, then you will be free to visit, subject to any general restrictions that we have in place.
- Secondly, you will find a grey shaded headed Self-isolate and get tested immediately if you have been to these locations. You will find a table of venues and times and obviously if you have been to any of these locations you cannot visit and aged care facility.
The table below is provided to show you what the webpage looks like. It is an outdated example and is not complete.
- Thirdly, you will find a grey shaded care headed Monitor for symptoms if you’ve been to these locations. Again, you will find a table of venues and times and regardless of whether you have any symptoms, if you have been to any of these locations at the nominated times you cannot visit any aged care facility. Instead, you need to monitor for symptoms for the next 14 days.
Again, the information below is provided to show you what the webpage looks like. It is just an outdated example and is not complete.