An update from the Doutta Galla CEO
Firstly, I want to thank every family member, and friend, of Doutta Galla residents for the respect and understanding you have shown for the decision that I took last week to restrict access to our homes. As well, I’d like to thank you so much for the messages and kind words that have come from many family members and friends to our aged care homes. They have been affirming and very welcomed by both staff and management.
This decision has been one of the most difficult my colleagues and I have had to make. By suspending visits at our aged care homes, we are aiming to reduce the spread of COVID-19 not only to our residents, but to our staff and to you and your family as well. Many of our residents’ family members and friends are also in a high-risk age group. I urge you to keep safe and follow the guidelines that have been provided for your own care.
I understand the distress in not having access to see your loved one. We all empathise with this and will work with families to support visits where there are special or end-of-life care considerations. However, I want to reassure you this decision was made with the health and wellbeing of every Doutta Galla resident at its centre.
I am pleased to report that Doutta Galla continues to be COVID-19 free in all of our homes. Regrettably a small number of homes in NSW, who did not take the same decisive action as Doutta Galla, and allowed family visits, have had residents test positive for coronavirus and have belatedly now restricted access to all visitors. This confirms for me that Doutta Galla was wise in taking the action that we did, when we did.
Doutta Galla staff are playing their role to provide comfort, care, and support for your loved one(s). Additional staff have been engaged for care and lifestyle activities, and we have introduced additional cleaning regimes. We are fully staffed and there has been very little absenteeism and agency use is low.
Also, some families have asked about temperature checks for staff. In addition to a range of other strict requirements, staff cannot work unless they agree to a temperature check before each shift and record the appropriate reading. This applies to any person who needs to attend a Doutta Galla Home for any reason.
I also understand the importance and need for residents to be connected with family and friends, and staff are continually working on safe, practical and inventive ways that we can facilitate communication and ensure that our residents remain engaged in the life of the home.
I understand that the staff at our homes are providing regular updates, either about your relative or activities in the homes.
However, I’d like to share some examples with you, many which have brought laughter and joy to our residents:
- Residents have had training themselves in correct hand washing techniques and some have received their certificates of completion that they have proudly put up on their walls. (Multilingual information has also been provided). Residents will continue to have refreshers, and assistance
- Some of our staff and families have been very inventive having phone calls outside the windows of our homes with the resident on one side and family on the other
- Resident Art Exhibitions are occurring in the lifts and around the buildings
- Lifestyle and other staff are ensuring more individual and one-to-one activities (whilst still ensuring adherence to the physical distancing requirements)
- Live streaming of religious events such as masses are taking place
- Italian Karaoke – apparently there was more laughter than singing
- Residents have received letters and cards from families and one home received beautiful cards from the Grade 4s at the local primary school. We will assist our residents to write back!
- Families have sent gifts (that can be wiped down) to remind residents of home or family
- Lots of drawings and photos have been sent in, especially of, and from, grandchildren and great grandchildren
- We have also purchased additional iPads at each of our Doutta Galla Homes for use by the residents
- Residents are enjoying using Facetime and Skype for the first time, amazed by what technology can offer “now-a-days’. Some are considering setting up Facebook accounts. The easiest way to facilitate video links will be via Skype. We will provide additional advice to families over the coming days with instructions about how to do this
- And, of course, the use of telephone. Some residents have said that they have never received so many phone calls, even with a phone in their room!
I also want to remind you about the recent Government announcement that anyone who has not had the flu vaccination by 1 May 2020 will not be able to visit an aged care home. I will be sending further communication about this to you soon.
As previously mentioned, we will continue to send correspondence to key family members, or those with Powers of Attorney. I again ask that if you are that person, please pass on the relevant information to other key people so as to minimise unnecessary distress. Our website will continue to have updated information and you are welcome to contact the Doutta Galla Home where your loved one resides.
We are facing unprecedented times. New and sometime conflicting advice comes out hourly and we continue to review and modify our actions on a moment by moment basis. Our focus is, and will continue to be, to take care of your loved one, our staff on the frontline and our Doutta Galla community as a whole.