Doutta Galla COVID-19

An update from the Doutta Galla CEO

Since I wrote to you last week, the Government has advised that individuals must restrict their movements in the community and are urged to stay at home. We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for our residents, and their families and understand that many family members and friends are also in a high-risk age group. I must emphasise that we will continue to work with families, as we are already doing, to support visits where there are special or end-of-life care considerations.

I want to continue to reassure you that we are taking the best possible care of our residents and we will remain connected to you via telephone, Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and the various other ways staff at each of our homes are keeping you up to date. Some families have taken the time to outline ‘special’ things that they do when they visit to assist staff.

I am very pleased to let you know that there continues to be very little absenteeism and agency use is low, so there is an improved continuity of staff, more speedy responses to calls for assistance and improved knowledge of our residents’ particular requirements. Additional staff have been engaged for care, lifestyle activities, and there is extensive additional cleaning. Temperature checks were introduced for each person entering the homes, and the residents are having either daily or second daily temperature checks.

Some family members have asked about supports for residents who have greater levels of disability or dementia, and especially those with limited communication and mobility, or can’t or don’t always feel up to more ‘active’ communication activities. There are additional staff who have been employed specially to assist with meals, and there are one-on-one sessions occurring with these residents such as hand massages, hair combing, listening to music and staff spending time individually to provide reassurance and support.

As many of our residents have strong religious beliefs and Easter is an important time in the Christian Calendar, staff are trying to organise live streaming of Easter celebrations for those residents who would like to participate.

We have been offering ‘window chats’ at our homes. This is a place where family members can at a specified time come to the home to see their loved one and talk to them on the phone through a designated window. This has been a wonderful initiative especially when families wanted to celebrate a special event like a birthday or wanted to be reassured that their loved one is safe and well. Although welcomed by many, there have been breaches of the social distancing rules and the numbers of family members participating. Unfortunately, there have been anonymous complaints made to the police and we have been advised that the rules imposed by the State must be observed or people might be fined.

This has been so successful, that I would like if at all possible, for this initiative to continue, For this to happen everyone needs to comply. I ask that that you contact the home in advance to arrange an appointment for the ‘window chat’, with a short, maximum of 2-people visits, keeping the physical distance requirement and 4 square metres per person.

Don’t forget that there are a number of ways you can stay connected with our residents:

  • Mobile phone, Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp
  • Write letters or send a card to your loved one
  • Send gifts and things that remind your loved one of home (things that can be laundered or wiped down)
  • Send photos via mobile phone

A few family members have asked for assistance with Skype, so Doutta Galla staff have developed some instruction to help you with setting up a Skype conversation. Click here to download.

Our website will also have updated information and you can contact the Doutta Galla Home where your loved one resides for further information.

In my last letter to you we advised you that as of 1 May 2020 all visitors coming to an aged care home will be required to have proof of having a current 2020 flu vaccination. I would like to remind you to make arrangements with your doctor to have a flu vaccination so that when you are permitted to come to the home, you will be able comply with these new requirements (otherwise we have been advised that we cannot permit you to enter).

Many of our residents have already received the flu vaccinations from their attending Doctor, and the rest are scheduled in the coming weeks. Doutta Galla has also arranged for all staff to receive flu vaccinations. (They too will not be permitted to work if they don’t not have a current flu vaccination). Similarly, our contractors and suppliers have been advised of the new requirement and will need to comply.

I want to thank every family member and friend of Doutta Galla residents for the respect and understanding they have shown in order to protect our residents, and staff are grateful for the individual messages of thanks that have been sent to them. I am so very proud of all our staff, from the frontline, the senior staff and the unseen corporate support staff who are working tirelessly in the background to make sure that the homes have all they need and the organisation is able to continue.

Doutta Galla’s focus remains on care of our residents, our staff, and our Doutta Galla community as a whole.