Aged care facilities have gone into lockdown in a bid by the Federal Government to keep older Australians safe from COVID-19. This move has resulted in plenty of questions around what restrictions are and the way they’ll affect your legal right to determine your older loved ones’ comfort and safety, also as how lockdowns will work if implemented in aged care facilities around Australia and therefore the impact on the status of residents.
With potential lockdowns within the future, it’s important that aged care home staff and families are prepared to support their older loved ones through social isolation, loneliness, and tedium.
How do aged care restrictions work and why are they important?
Some of the restrictions appointed by the government are a little vague and aged care facilities are interpreting them the way they feel most closely fits and protects their residents.
You need to test with the ability where your older relative lives to grasp exactly what rules or bans they need put in situ. Some facilities are only allowing visitations between certain times, while others have gone into full lockdown.
The official Government rules are that any visitations from families or friends to facilities can only be for “short durations”. this is not incredibly specific on the duration of visits, however, some aged care facilities have implemented 15-30 minute visitation times.
These visitations must be conducted in either the resident’s room, outdoors, or during a designated area, and social distancing rules of 1.5 metres apart apply.
There is a maximum of two visitors per day for every resident. This includes the resident’s practitioner, so confirm to coordinate the times you wish to go to.
The above restrictions also apply to people cared for in palliative care in aged care facilities, however, Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked facilities to be compassionate in their visitation restrictions in these cases.
People who have just returned from overseas or are in reality with a confirmed or suspected care of COVID-19 don’t seem to be allowed into aged care facilities.
Additionally, from May 1, if you’ve got not received the 2020 influenza vaccine, you’ll not be able to enter an aged care facility. you’ll provide evidence of a batch code or a letter from your doctor proving you’ve got received an influenza vaccine to enter.
Aged care facilities are enforcing mandatory sanitization for everybody coming through their doors and each person should be asked the essential COVID-19 inquiries to see if they need been in danger of exposure. Some facilities also are checking the temperatures of staff upon entering.
While the restrictions are tough for residents and families, they’re necessary to forestall or reduce the likelihood of coronavirus entering aged care facilities.
In a recent webinar from the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), Patricia Sparrow, Chief military officer (CEO) of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), appeared on a panel, saying, “The first priority we’ve got is to shield the older people we’ve got in care”.
Ms. Sparrow explained that aged care facilities have superb infection controls on site which are usually for flu or gastro illnesses, but these processes are quite similar for the prevention of COVID-19.
What are lockdowns and the way will that affect my access to my loved ones?
If the coronavirus evolves to some extent of needing lockdowns, this might impact outside relatives and friends from seeing their older loved ones in aged care face to face for a period of your time.
Similar to an influenza outbreak in an aged care facility, any resident who contracts COVID-19 would either be transferred to a hospital or be placed in isolation within the facility.
Other residents would wish to travel in social isolation and be monitored for any more symptoms of the coronavirus.
Any resident that contains disease or current comorbidity that produces them more vulnerable is taken care of during a single room where possible.
Additionally, during a virulent disease, it’s unlikely for residents to be allowed to maneuver around the facility, including communal areas or meal areas.
Staff members are utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE) and practicing high-level sanitization procedures, like disinfecting all hard surfaces every two hours. During these restrictions, many facilities are already utilizing a number of these procedures now.
Aged care facilities in lockdown might not absorb any further new residents for a period of your time. Social activities have already been restricted in aged care facilities, this may be more heavily enforced during a lockdown.
For families, only essential visits would be allowed which discretion would be up to the individual facility.
Supporting the psychological state of residents during restrictions and lockdowns
Isolation in aged care has always been a difficulty, but now over ever, aged care providers must implement different projects and activities to have interaction with their residents. Many aged care facilities are putting in place extra effort to create their residents feel socialized, respected, and engaged.
A widely circulated photo on social media showed an Irish aged care provider hosting a game of bingo with residents sitting within the doorway to their rooms. It highlighted the creative ways aged care providers are trying to continue engaging their residents while imposing safe social distancing practices.
Tamar Krebs, founder, and co-CEO of Group Homes says that social distancing will be tricky to manage, but is imperative for residents safety,
“I think it’s really important for families to support carers the maximum amount as possible during now, and for carers to support families. We are all on the identical team here which is to undertake and keep residents healthy as possible during this really difficult time. I feel that’s something we will all align and commit ourselves to the current, we’ll get through this together,” says Ms. Krebs.
Tips for improving helping improve the psychological state in aged care
Group Homes has been responding “responsibly” not reactively to the coronavirus epidemic. The organisation has brought in additional activities within the house in preparation for a whole lockdown.
This includes different games, activities, gardening tools, in addition to preparing their medication supplies and consumables stock.
Ms. Krebs says that in these restrictions, people have to be responsible and think ahead when seeing their loved ones, especially with potential lockdowns on the horizon.
She recommends that families herald photo albums or memories for his or her relatives to reminiscence over or surf, or usher in a much-loved book series or puzzles.
Aged care facilities are going to be ramping up their internal activities where possible to stay their residents engaged.
While social groups aren’t any longer able to visit, some aged care facilities are receiving letters from school children addressed to residents.
Another option for relatives and friends to stay up-to-date with their older loved ones is to utilise technology.
Ms. Krebs says most providers can help founded video links on phones or computers, additionally, sending videos with nice, heartfelt messages is great for residents because they will play the video over and once again.
Other available platforms include online social groups or clubs, the same as Feros Care’s Virtual Social Centre, which provides a much-needed connection to those that are remote, lonely, or searching for entertainment.
Ms. Krebs adds that forming a connection between a resident and their loved ones is de facto important for enhancing their moods and improving their mental state.
For more information about coronavirus, visit the Aged Care Guide’s COVID-19 update page.
A version of this article was originally published on https://rb.gy/nbxbcn by Liz Alderslade