Doutta Galla COVID-19

Dear Residents, Families and Friends,

Over the past week, Yarraville Village has continued to stabilise with many staff returning.  We have also seen the gradual return of some residents and very sadly we have also lost some of our residents.  We grieve for families who have lost their loved ones due to this dreadful virus and with our residents we grieve the loss of their friends from our Home.  Loss of a loved one is never easy and loss in this period is further heightened by the constraints placed on all of us by COVID-19.  Please know that our residents who have passed away and their families are in our thoughts and prayers and we will miss them.

I understand that communication during this time is so important.  Many families have expressed a preference for communication to come directly from the Home (as the information being sought is more of a personal and individual nature).  For this reason, you will notice that we have increased the contact from the Home and decreased the general CEO updates.  Notwithstanding this, I will send out emails when we have new information to share.

I am pleased to let you know that one of our very experienced Managers from Doutta Galla, Talya Goldsmith, has been appointed as the Manager at Yarraville to replace Sam Kurne.   Talya is a senior nurse and has been managing our Footscray Home over the past 8 months.  Along with Talya, Rebecca Watson who worked with Talya at Footscray, and at the Corporate Support Office, has been appointed as the Administration Officer.  I believe they will play a key role in ensuring that Yarraville is able to return to the place we all know and love.  Both Talya and Rebecca will start at the Home on Monday 31 August 2020.

Though we have been through a difficult time, we also understand the importance of recovery and we have already started what we are calling the ‘recovery and repatriation’ process.  We have already been moving residents back to their rooms and are ensuring the rooms are ready for when residents return to the Home.

As previously advised, we are continuing to seek clarification from the relevant government departments about the criteria that would give Yarraville a COVID-19 clearance for the residents and staff.  One of which is that the virus has ceased its spread, i.e. no new ‘positive’ results are detected for residents or staff.  The most recent round of testing had shown no new staff testing positive to COVID-19.  As this is an evolving situation, recent advice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health Unit (PHU) is that there has been a change to the testing regime for residents and there is no longer a requirement to test residents who have had a positive COVID-19 result.

The PHU have also advised that if after the passing of 14 days, a person is symptom free, they may be considered to be non-infectious and therefore clear of COVID-19.

We understand that the PHU or its delegate, will issue individual resident clearances at the appropriate time (without the need for further testing).  We are pursuing further advice on this as we consider that residents and their families would likely prefer additional assurance by having a combination of a COVID-19 test result and a PHU clearance.

We are working closely with both the Commonwealth and State Government agencies to obtain clarification to enable us to progress our plans and further understand the appropriate time to return our residents who are currently in hospital with a negative diagnosis.  This will also allow residents to come out of their rooms and move freely around the Home and for residents to see their families.

Our focus remains on strengthening the health and wellbeing of the residents who have all experienced some impact during this time.  As previously advised, we are encouraging residents to eat and drink more.  We will continue to provide our residents with opportunities to connect with family and friends via the telephone, video conferencing and window visits.

Since I last wrote to you, we have been overwhelmed with cards, flowers and well wishes, especially from the local community.  On Wednesday the Yarraville Club provided fresh scones and cookies for afternoon tea, and students from St. Theresa’s Primary School in Essendon sent a video with lovely messages for our residents.  These have been very much appreciated.

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.

We will let you know as soon as possible if there is a change in your or your family member’s health status.  Please call us on 9687 8233 if you have an enquiry or concern about your family member.  The email address for written questions or concerns is covid19questions@dgas.org.au.

Thankyou once again for your support during this challenging time.

Yours sincerely,

Vanda Iaconese
CEO