Dear Doutta Galla Families and Resident Representatives
An update from the Doutta Galla CEO – Relaxation of General Visitor Restrictions
Everyone in Victoria has done an outstanding job in helping slow the spread of COVID-19 and given that the spread of the virus has slowed, we are creating ways to relax restrictions to visits at our Doutta Galla homes in the very near future. Although we have already allowed visits for special consideration, including clinical, end of life and compassionate reasons, we are looking towards extending opportunities for general wellbeing visits.
Enhanced protections were always intended to be time limited to reflect the immediate risk to the residents in our care and these will continue to be reviewed regularly. Supported by the majority of residents and their families, Doutta Galla will remain exceedingly cautious in the face of the devastating impact that the Coronavirus has had in aged care homes in NSW, Victoria and overseas, and any changes made will be in a considered, compassionate, safe and controlled way.
We are in the process of setting up family hubs to enable visitors and residents to see and physically meet with each other in a supervised environment. Our aim is to avoid unnecessary movement through our homes and unintentional contact other residents. We anticipate that this will be able to occur sometime in the next week. The actual date of commencement will be dependent on the size and number of potential visitors, and the logistics of accommodating the visits in a controlled way. We are also investigating the ability to set up and manage more than one hub at our larger homes.
Doutta Galla will have in place strong screening protocols that families and friends must adhere to if we are to ease visitor restrictions. You will receive further information from your home, as the hubs become operational in the next week.
Preparing yourself for a visit
As we work to set up the processes by which we can allow more families to visit with their loved ones, we request that you prepare yourselves in the following way:
- Have your 2020 flu vaccination. This is a Government requirement and you will not be able to enter out homes after 1 May 2020 without one
- In line with State government guidelines, Doutta Galla encourages family members with even the mildest symptoms to get tested for COVID-19. Symptoms that should prompt people to get tested include fever, chills, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, loss of sense of smell, or a runny nose. Even the mildest of symptoms could be a sign of coronavirus. As well as your own doctor, the State Government is setting up mobile coronavirus testing sites across Melbourne, at a number of major shopping centres to assist with testing
- Ensure that you are generally well and not carrying another potential infectious disease such as influenza or gastro
Protocols for visits
Once the home is ready to receive general wellbeing visits you will be asked to adhere to the protocols and sign a declaration upon entry.
The protocols will, amongst other things, include:
- Agreement to comply with entry conditions and to follow instructions from staff
- A maximum of 2 family members/friends at one time
- Hand sanitizing will be required
- Social distancing will need to be observed
- Agreement to have your temperature scanned before entering the home and not enter if your temperature is (above 38°C)
- You will need to show proof that you have a current 2020 flu vaccination. Examples are a signed letter from your doctor, pharmacist, or a printed copy of the Medicare statement indicating you’ve had the vaccination
- Children under 16 will not yet be able to visit at this time
The declaration you will be required to sign includes attesting that you:
- Have had the 2020 Flu shot
- Have not returned from any form of overseas travel, or been required for any reason to self -isolate in the last 14 days
- Have not been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID -19 in the last 14 days;
- Do not have a fever or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or have an acute respiratory infection (including a dry cough, sore or scratchy throat, runny nose, loss of taste or smell, or nausea)
- If you have had a test for COVID and it is negative
- Have not been in contact with any person, including family, who has returned from overseas in the past 14 days or who has experienced fever or symptoms of COVID-19 or has an acute respiratory infection
- Do not have any other factors that could indicate another infectious disease such as gastro, or that entry would put yourself at risk
Again, your home will provide further details as we map out the facilitation of visits.
Easing of visitor restrictions will be phased as we test and monitor our systems, processes and resources as well as visitor compliance and behaviour. We will introduce protective measures as required to ensure the best and safest environment for our residents and staff. By extension we will also do our best to protect visitors as they too may have vulnerabilities that could be impacted by the compliance of other visitors. In the meantime, please continue to make contact with your family member via phone, chat decks, facetime, skype, letters and cards.
Thank you for your support and understanding, and thanks too to the families who have taken the time to write or send gifts of appreciation to staff for their care, kindness and dedication. I am immensely proud of the Doutta Galla staff who are taking such good care of our residents.
Chief Executive Officer Doutta Galla Aged Services Ltd