Doutta Galla COVID-19

Dear Doutta Galla Families and Resident Representatives

An update from the Doutta Galla CEO

Saturday 25 April is ANZAC Day. This is a special day that means so much to Australians and to many of the residents at Doutta Galla. The spirit of the ANZACS can be described as that of endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, and mateship. Today we are facing our own challenges that require us to dig deep and find the same spirt. No matter our background, our religion or our politics, this spirit is one that brings out the very best in every one of us.

Over five weeks ago, we made a decision to limit visits to our Doutta Galla Aged Care Homes. At the time this decision was made, we were faced with projections and information that was predicting a health crisis in Australia that was unprecedented and one that was predicted to kill many of the most vulnerable in our society, the very people that live at, and are cared for, by Doutta Galla. My greatest fear was, and remains, that a resident or staff member would contract this illness while living or working with us. To date this has not occurred, and I am so very grateful to every family member, resident and all staff at Doutta Galla who have stood by this decision and who have worked so hard to ensure we stay safe.

The decision has come with its challenges. Not hugging your loved one or holding their hand is so tough. My own family members and friends are feeling the same not being able to see their children and grandchildren. However, the awful number of deaths reported from overseas are being prevented here because of this sacrifice. The tragic news coming from NSW is a reminder about how quickly the virus can overtake the residents and staff in aged care homes and why we should be protecting everyone so closely.

Our Prime Minister has expressed concern about residents in aged care not having contact with their families. Unfortunately, those comments have created more confusion and concern about visitation restrictions, not just for Doutta Galla, but for providers across the nation, and have made a difficult situation even more challenging for our families and our staff.

We receive contradictory information that we need to navigate our way through. The Federal Government advice differs to the Victorian State Government Directions which has not altered since my last letter to you. Robyn Simpson our General Manager Services, Quality, and Compliance, and I will be part of an industry wide online meeting with the Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck and Professor Brendan Murphy this afternoon to discuss how we manage these issues. In the event the information we get this afternoon provides more clarity and if there are any changes I will let you know.

No person at Doutta Galla is being “locked” in their room. Residents that are ill may be isolated if they are suspected of having coronavirus and this is with full discussion with the resident and their representatives and only to protect other residents and staff. We have made special considerations where needed and allowed care and support visits, and of course for end of life. We too look forward to the near future when we can welcome back our families and friends.

Our staff are tremendously committed to our residents and are working hard to ensure contact is occurring with families either behind the scenes or through online means. Video calls and phone calls and chatting through the ‘chat decks/windows’ have become really popular amongst our residents. Our Managers are regularly engaging with residents through resident meetings and “walking the floor” and chatting. The daily lives of our residents are continuing.

Families have expressed a desire to send letters of thanks and support to staff, and I understand that you may also have more questions, comments and feedback. To enable this, we have set up an email address. It is covid19questions@dgas.org.au. Of course, your interaction and communication with the Manager is always the first point of contact.

Thank you to every family member and friend of Doutta Galla. Together I hope we can connect with the ANZAC Spirit and get through this great challenge. As always, our focus will continue to be on the care and support of every person at Doutta Galla Aged Services.

Yours sincerely

Vanda Iaconese
Chief Executive Officer Doutta Galla Aged Services Ltd