The federal government has imposed a lot of new restrictions in the past weeks, in an effort to flatten the curve of the current Coronavirus pandemic. With these measures, new restrictions have been imposed upon home care providers and aged care facilities.

Naturally, this raises questions about what the restrictions mean for carers, families and friends, how will they affect visitation and what will happen if the country goes into full lockdown.

Restrictions, currently, differ between states and territories; different areas have different rules and regulations. For example, some home care providers have stopped home visits and a select few facilities have implemented a full internal lockdown, no longer allowing visitors.

Others allow carers and visitors, but only at certain times of the day, or restrict visiting times to 15-30 minutes or less. Aged care facilities have also been imposing strict hygiene protocols. These must be followed by all who enter the grounds of the facility, including visitors, staff, delivery services, cleaners, and so on.

Be sure to check with your family’s care provider to know exactly which rules apply.

Our prime minister has called for compassion in the case of palliative and Mental health. Restrictions may be relaxed in these cases, so be sure to check with your care provider for more details.

If the pandemic progresses to the point of nationwide lockdown, additional measures are likely to be imposed, if they have not done so already. These measures may include:

  • Social distancing – the ruleof 1 person for every 4 square metres to ensure a safe physical distance
  • Staff will wear additional PPE such as gloves, aprons, masks or face shields
  • Continuous Covid – 19 training for staff
  • Additional cleaning measures, such as disinfecting hard surfaces frequently

In the event of a full lockdown, only essential visits would be allowed under the discretion of the facility. This may affect your loved one’s home care plan, so be sure to stay in communication with your care provider for updates.

Isolation and a feeling of disconnect with the wider community may be a concern for our elderly. Now more than ever, we must find creative ways to engage and support them in this unprecedented time.

Many aged care facilities are taking a proactive approach, improvising new ways to provide games and activities to their residents. Including interactive white boards, virtual reality headsets, social distancing bingo and one-on-one visits.

How can you support your loved ones at this time?

Provide your loved one with something tactile that they can use during a potential lockdown. Old photo albums, treasured book series, a favourite old film, needle craft, crosswords or even a jigsaw puzzle. Something they can turn their attention to, reminisce over or occupy their time.

Consider writing letters or sending cards to your loved ones. Embrace technology and show them how to read and send emails, or even set up regular video calls using Skype or Face Time (most staff are happily assisting residents in discovering and using these technologies and features). These small moments may be the highlight of their day.

Evolving restrictions in this crisis can come suddenly and without warning. Stay aware of changing rules by keeping in contact with your family’s aged care provider.

Do you care for a loved one living with dementia who lives alone?

You may be required to self-isolate and not visit them during a lockdown. Here are some things you can do to continue to support them:

  • It can be helpful to write out a care plan for others who are sharing the care responsibilities while you are unable, such as home care providers, district nurses, etc. This will ensure that care is consistent, and a regular routine is maintained.
  • Ask the carer to assist them to prepare meals, do some gentle exercise (even seated in a chair), set out suitable clothes for the following day, or take them for a walk around the garden. Change the bed sheets and do the washing.
  • Set out some activities such as colouring pencils and paper, large wooden jigsaws, socks for pairing, magazines and picture albums. Provide a companion teddy, plush pet or doll.
  • Call by phone or video chat regularly, and keep communication open.
  • If they have a mobile phone, you may consider downloading a tracking system if they are inclined to leave the house or wander.

These suggestions may seem like basic, mundane or childlike tasks, however for people living with dementia, they are often pleasant occurrences and bring a sense of calm and normality.

If you are concerned about your loved one in the current social climate or are seeking options on aged care, please send us a message and we’ll have a chat.

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