Doutta Galla COVID-19

22 September 2020

Dear Residents, Families and Friends,

Like all Victorians I am so pleased to see the number of cases of COVID-19 declining.  This is good news for all of us and particularly good news for Doutta Galla.  We all know that lower case numbers in the Community lessens the risk of infections being introduced into our aged care Homes.

Since my last general update, we have experienced much heartbreak and sorrow, yet I have been heartened by the goodness I have seen and felt from many, many people that often comes from a crisis.

Over the past week, all our residents and staff at our Footscray and Yarraville Village Homes have been cleared of COVID-19 by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health Unit (PHU).  Footscray has completed all the required milestones and as a result, the outbreak was declared over this week.  We are also on track for the Yarraville Village outbreak to be declared over by this Saturday night.

Having residents from Footscray and Yarraville Homes return to normal daily routines with meals back in the dining room with their friends has never before felt like such a momentous occasion.

At this time, we continue to manage an infectious outbreak at our Woornack Home, and I am encouraged by the last two rounds of testing where over 150 COVID-19 tests were conducted, and all have returned negative test results.  This means we can start the process of obtaining COVID-19 clearances from the PHU for those residents who have been affected.  When this milestone is achieved, that Home will go into an ‘Enhanced Surveillance’ phase and residents will be able to again move freely around the Home, have their meals in the dining rooms and begin to socialise with their friends.

All three outbreaks have been particularly distressing and difficult for our residents, their families, our staff and the Doutta Galla community as a whole.  We have all been extremely saddened by the loss of residents to this virus; and our deepest sympathies and condolences have been extended to each and every family who has lost a loved one.  In the same period, we have also lost residents to other diseases and conditions, and we are equally saddened by those losses, our sympathies have been extended to their families and we mourn their loss too.

Doutta Galla has used every resource it has had available to it to manage these outbreaks.  In addition, we have worked in partnership with State and Commonwealth Health Departments and local agencies such as Western Health to move swiftly and precisely to address the infection control challenges and the logistics of workforce shortages.  Throughout this pandemic we have endeavoured to keep our residents and families informed of updates and any changes to the situation as they have arisen.

As an organisation we continue to work tirelessly to prevent the virus from coming into our Homes by screening staff daily and ensuring they are following all infection control protocols which include the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment, stringent hand hygiene and social distancing protocols.  We continue to review our clinical screening processes, including infection control processes and have had these processes independently reviewed.

We are looking forward to being able to provide additional opportunities for visits using the family hub arrangement at each Home.  These visits will be reviewed in line with the lifting of State Government Stage 4 restrictions.  In the meantime, the current arrangements of window visits and video conferencing will continue and of course we continue to support our residents and families for compassionate reasons.  The Manager from the Home where you live or where your family member lives will keep you informed of the visitation arrangements.

As these ongoing communications from me are usually only sent to the resident and nominated resident representative, can I remind you to please pass on my letters to others in your family who may not be receiving these letters directly from the Home.  If there are additional people who would like to receive my regular updates, can you please pass on my letters to them directly or let the Home know their details and we can add them to the email list for you.  All of my general communications, including previous letters from me, are available on the Doutta Galla website at https://www.dgas.org.au/coronavirus-updates/ and can be accessed at any time.

We understand this is a very distressing time for everyone in the community and especially for those who have family members living in aged care.  We continue to work together to ensure that our residents receive the care they need.  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.

Please contact the Home if you have any questions or concerns.  In addition, you are welcome to contact us via the email address covid19questions@dgas.org.au.

Yours sincerely,

Vanda Iaconese

CEO