The recent announcement from Dan Andrews to ease our lockdown restrictions by moving from Step 2 to Step 3 in our roadmap to reopening last week gave Victorians a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s been a challenging year since the arrival of COVID-19 in March. As advocates who always have our finger on the pulse within the aged care sector, we can say that this has been no truer than for our senior Australians.
The aged care sector both in Victoria and across the country has had an enormous number of preventative measures, restrictions and requirements in place as a part of their COVID-19 response plan. This includes extra allowances, extensions, packages and community initiatives to look after our elderly loved ones’ safety and wellbeing. We’ve covered all of these in our blogs COVID-19 Aged Care Response Plan: A Snapshot, Use Your Home Care Package to Help with Safety & Social Isolation, New Range of Support Services for Carers, Seven Preventative Actions You Can Take to Protect Your Elderly Loved One’s Physical & Mental Wellbeing During COVID-19.
So, how has Victoria’s move from Step 2 to Step 3 in our roadmap to reopening effected current COVID-19 restrictions in Aged Care?
New restrictions on visitors to care facilities have been introduced:
The Chief Health Officer has restricted access to facilities where vulnerable Victorians live and receive care, including elderly people. This is due to their higher vulnerability in catching and transmitting COVID-19, and may be critically at-risk if exposed.
From 11:59pm, 18 October 2020, new restrictions on visitors to care facilities have been introduced in accordance to our roadmap to reopen.
According to DHHS Victoria, these new requirements must take effect:
- All Victorian care facilities need to keep a record of people who are visitors or workers. Records need to be kept for 28 days from the day of entry.
- These visitors and workers must declare that they: do not have coronavirus symptoms; have not been in contact with a confirmed case (except with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at work); and have not been required to isolate or quarantine in accordance with the Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts Directions.
This in addition to wearing the right PPE upon visitation (see our blog All you Need to Know About PPE to Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones During the Pandemic.)
You can read a more comprehensive outline of visitation restrictions and guidelines here: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/visiting-care-facilities-covid-19
‘Step 2 Restricted’ to ‘Step 3 Restricted’ Level for Healthcare industry roadmap:
Despite these extra precautions the industry restriction levels for Healthcare, which includes Allied Health and other primary health services, have moved out of Step 2 Restriction requirements into Step 3 Restriction levels.
Official Industry Restriction Levels can be found here: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-10/Industry-Restriction-Levels-Healthcare-Allied-Health-and-other-primary-health.pdf
This means that while many restrictions and requirements are still in place from Step 2, there are a few changes to these in line with Victoria’s move to Step 3 in our roadmap to reopen. These changes include:
- Telehealth services should be preference as the first option for care delivery and provided where and as appropriate.
- Recommencement of most services with COVIDSafe Plan in place (with the exception of group classes as below).
- Group classes / services are allowed (face-to-face) only if they can be conducted safely outdoors (maximum 2 people plus health worker).
When in doubt, call your aged care facility to find out what their requirements are:
It’s worth keeping in mind that different facilities may have additional conditions, requirements or restrictions for entry. Only in exceptional cases will some areas be closed to visitors to keep vulnerable residents safe or restrict visitation to close family.
Vaccinations may be your care provider’s requirement before entering their care facility.
Although not mandatory in Victoria, flu vaccinations can still be your care provider’s requirement for entering certain facilities. Read more about the ‘Flu Vaccination requirements for aged care facilities’ Fact Sheet here: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/07/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions-on-entry-into-and-visitors-to-aged-care-facilities.pdf
If you’re still unsure, reach out to Well Placed Care. As a part of our advocacy service, we will enquire and liaise with your chosen care provider on your family’s behalf. Independent aged care advocate and consultant Pauline Healy has assisted several clients to find the right aged care during the pandemic, and is abreast of all COVID-19 requirements within the aged care sector. Pauline’s wealth of experience and extensive knowledge of the industry means she can offer information that is informed, current and accurate.
The pandemic has created an ever-changing landscape of requirements, preventative measures and restrictions within the aged care sector. It’s a lot to stay on top of and can be overwhelming! Even without the added layer of a pandemic, navigating the aged care system is no easy task. Having Pauline Healy by your side to coordinate everything on your behalf will turn this into a quick and easy process. From seeking help in your home, applying for aged care assessments, to more permanent care, Pauline will be able to support & find the right option to meet your care needs.
And as an independent aged care advocacy and consultancy that will constantly stay on top of the latest industry new, updates and information, we’ll always ensure that we work alongside the most current preventative strategies and responses to COVID19.
If you’re seeking informed, expert guidance on making the transition into aged care whilst also ensuring your elderly loved one’s safety, contact Well Placed Care today.