Doutta Galla COVID-19

21 September 2020.

Dear Resident, Families and Friends,

I am writing to you with exceptionally good news.  Since my letter to you two weeks ago, the Footscray Home has been in ‘Enhanced Surveillance’.  The automatic move to the next stage i.e. a full ‘Stand Down’ order from the Public Health Unit, we needed to complete the 14 day ‘Enhanced Surveillance’ period where the residents, staff and the Home remained COVID-19 free.  I am pleased to say that this milestone has now been reached and as of midnight last night 20 September 2020, the Footscray Home is declared COVID-19 free.

As previously advised, all residents and staff have been cleared of COVID-19 by the Public Health Unit of the Department of Health and Human Services.  Pleasingly there are no residents or staff with COVID-19 symptoms.

This is welcome news after a long and difficult period of lockdown managing this insidious virus.  Over the past 14 days the Home has been slowly returning to normal.  All residents are back in their original rooms and all residents have returned to the Home.  Meals are again being enjoyed in the dining room and residents are participating and engaging in group activities.

A coming together celebratory lunch was held last Friday 21 September 2020 for residents and staff to commemorate residents lost, to acknowledge the difficulties of the past eight weeks and to celebrate the end of the hard lockdown.  Pleasingly our focus on strengthening the health and wellbeing of our residents has many of our residents gaining weight and feeling happier and stronger.

We have been delighted by the ongoing community support that the residents have received throughout these past weeks.  Local school children have been sending ‘Flat Stanley’s’ (a card with a supportive message) to residents and the residents in turn have sent back a message to the student.  In addition, residents have been receiving individualised support letters from volunteers via the ‘Letters against ISO’ volunteer group.

The Home has initiated a ‘Zoom Pal’, program which is a weekly catchup via Zoom, for Footscray residents with residents from other Doutta Galla Homes with a common cultural background or interest.  This initiative has provided connections and support more than we could have imagined.  Roshna, our Lifestyle Coordinator, tells me that friendships are being established with other residents and she looks forward to a time when participants can meet each other in person.

We are also looking forward to being able to offer again the family hub visits.  We will let you know as soon as this can be arranged.  Unfortunately, until State Government Stage 4 restrictions are lifted, the current arrangements of window visits and video conferencing will need to continue.

We will continue to closely monitor the emotional and physical health of our residents, providing additional support where needed.  Please call us on 9687 6744 if you have an enquiry or concern. The email address for written questions or concerns is covid19questions@dgas.org.au.

If you or your family would like more support during this difficult time, please reach out to OPAN (Older Persons Advisory Network) on 1800 237 981.  They are available 6am-10pm, 7 days a week. The other organisation that can assist you is Elder Rights Advocacy Victoria who can be reached on 1800 171 866 for support and advice.

Thankyou once again for your support, patience and understanding during this challenging time.

Yours sincerely,

Vanda Iaconese

CEO