Gwen McKenzie loved a visit from her great grandchildren, Daniel, Maia and Josie Booth at her retirement village last month
A lot of our parents and grandparents living in aged care facilities are having the hardest of times during Covid, as the only people they have been seeing day to day are one or two carers.
Meals are predominantly being served in the rooms, so even socialising over a meal has stopped for a lot of facilities.
This is difficult for all families but it is important to call the residence if you live in Queensland to check their rules, as you may be able to sit with your relative outside in a garden after all checks are made.
The following information is from the Australian Government to ensure everyone is safe irrespective of age and so that we don’t forget our loved ones in homes.
The following people cannot enter residential aged care facilities (RACF):
- People who have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
- People who have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- People who are unwell, including with a fever or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g. cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath)
- People who do not have an up-to-date (i.e. 2020) flu vaccination.
Children of all ages can now visit RACFs. All visitors, including children, must follow any restrictions. This includes visitor numbers, physical distancing and personal hygiene.
Facilities should not allow large group visits.
If you are unable to visit someone call the facility to understand what processes are in place. If you have concerns with the facility’s actions, contact:
- the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 237 981, or
- the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822.
When you visit a facility you need to:
- limit visits to a maximum of two visitors at one time per resident
- conduct visits in a resident’s room, outdoors, or in a specific area designated by the aged care facility
- not visit in communal areas with other residents
- show evidence you have received your 2020 flu vaccination.
There is no time limit on visits from spouses, other close relatives and social supports.
All visitors must practise physical distancing, staying 1.5 metres away from other people whenever possible.
If you are well you should continue to visit friends and relatives in aged care facilities.
Sometimes you can’t visit a resident in aged care as often as you would like. There are other ways to keep in touch and stay connected. You can keep in touch by:
- phone calls
- video calls
- social communication apps
- sending a postcard
- sharing photos, artwork, or short home videos
If you often visit someone living with a cognitive impairment, consider other ways to maintain social contact. This will help reassure individuals who may feel anxious about possible changes to their day to day life. For more information you can contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Residents can leave facilities to attend small family gatherings. This includes close friends, partners, couples and siblings/familial groups in a facility. You will need to tell the facility the location of the outing, the number of people involved and the date.
Even if you are feeling well, it is important to take steps to prevent the spread of this virus. Good hygiene and staying 1.5m away from other people are the best defences against COVID-19 for you and your family. Steps you can take include:
- Supervising any children who are with you to make sure they follow physical distancing and hygiene advice
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
- Disposing of used tissues into a bin immediately and washing your hands
- Washing your hands often with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This includes before and after eating, after going to the toilet, and when you have been out in public
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you touch regularly
- Keeping a distance of at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others
- If you are sick, avoiding contact with others.
If you start to feel unwell, phone the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 or your GP. They will provide you with further advice.
For the latest advice, information and resources, go to: health.gov.au
Call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.
The phone number of your state or territory public health agency is available at: www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts
If you have concerns about your health, speak to a doctor.
If you, a family member or friend needs crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For other support with mental health and wellbeing, visit headtohealth.gov.au