Doutta Galla COVID-19

30 July 2020 

Dear Residents, Families and Friends, 

This letter aims to provide a comprehensive update on our Footscray Aged Care Home. This is in addition to the regular contact directly from the home, especially with our residents. Based on the feedback and questions we have received included in this update is a summary of what we are doing at, and for, Footscray and its residents. 

The results from the last round of testing came in late yesterday. Sadly, there are an additional six residents who have tested positive and eight staff. We now have a total of 18 residents and 12 staff who have tested positive. 

We have had one resident who initially returned a positive result and has now returned a negative result. Three residents have been transferred to hospital and one resident who has been very unwell is being cared for in the home. All other residents remain well. We assess residents throughout the day and if there are any changes to a health status, we will contact you. 

We continue to advocate strongly for the transfer of residents to hospital, and we would appreciate more support from the State and Federal Governments. As previously stated, we are working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Unit to verify that all our infection control protocols in place are strong, and we are monitoring these daily to ensure they are being followed by all staff. We are determined to resolve this situation as fast as we possibly can. 

We are extremely proud of the resilience of you our residents, and our families. It is an anxious time for all of us and we are seeking to engage a Social Worker to be available for additional emotional and pastoral support. 

The following actions have been implemented in consultation with DHHS Public Health Unit (PHU), and in some cases as directed by the PHU. 

Resident Care 

• Testing will continue on a 3-daily basis until all residents return a negative result. Then we will work towards a 14 days clearance before we return to operating business as usual 

• Specific support, assessment and care for COVID-19 positive residents 

• Daily screening of residents for COVID-19 signs and symptoms 

• Provision of delicious meals, morning afternoon tea and supper and provision of fluids 

• Provision of emotional support and activity packs to keep residents occupied in their rooms 

• Professional medical support from GPs and the Aged Care Liaison Service to conduct assessments when needed

• Provision of the best possible personal care and clinical care 

• A formal clinical update is provided to the COVID-19 senior staff daily and more regularly as residents needs change 

• The home continues to facilitate telephone, Skype and FaceTime calls where possible We ask that you call the home between 10am – 4.30pm to make a booking for a Skype or FaceTime call, as this ensures our staff are set up to take this important call. o (For those of you who would like to know what this means, staff fully change, don -put on – and doff -take off- their Professional Protective Equipment PPE, up to 14 times a day) 

• Your suggestions and feedback on this are also very welcome. If you would like anything shared with your loved one such as meaningful items in a memory box (it needs to be easy to clean), new clothes etc please drop them in and we’ll make sure the resident gets it) 

Infection Prevention Control 

• All staff are using Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when attending to residents (the supply has been ongoing from the Government stockpile and we took a large shipment of PPE yesterday) 

• Separating where possible areas for COVID-19 positive residents and COVID-19 negative residents to manage infection control 

• Infection control areas are clearly marked for safe entry and exit to resident rooms 

• Identification of COVID-19 positive residents’ rooms for more specific infection control purposes 

• Requirement that staff only work at the Footscray Home 

• Extra staff on all shifts (extra staff for nursing, personal care, PPE champions, resident service assistance, food service delivery to rooms, administration and telephone calls) 

• PPE training refresh on the job every day and continuous online refresher training is provided 

• As required, residents’ meals are being provided on disposable plates 

• Daily deep cleaning of the home. Additional cleaning staff are in place to ensure touchpoints and frequently used areas of the home remain disinfected 

Staffing 

• We remain in daily contact with staff who have been affected by the virus, they remain in our thoughts at this very difficult time 

• Staffing continues to be a challenge for us as it does for all aged care providers 

• Our Human Resources team are working around the clock to fill the rosters on each shift as well source and recruit additional Doutta Galla and agency staff 

• Requirement that staff only work at the Footscray Home 

• Extra staff on all shifts (extra staff for nursing, personal care, PPE champions, resident service assistance, food service delivery to rooms, administration and telephone calls) 

• Staff are being inducted and oriented on site. Reports to me have been that additional staff have been able and willing to quickly provide the care and support to residents in a professional and caring manner

• Staff rooms have been set up to separate staff and to ensure staff are physically distancing at break time 

• We are providing staff with meals if they would like them and a coffee cart is coming to the home daily to support them in their service to the residents 

Testing & Results 

• A new testing regime has been directed by the Public Health Unit and as far as we know will continue until the home is free of COVID-19 

• Testing is occurring every three day 

• Via the new method testing will now only involve residents, and only those who are currently negative to COVID-19 

• Existing resident who are positive will not be retested. We are unclear as to the reason for this 

• Staff will be tested via a different team at unspecified times 

• If you or your family member’s diagnosis changes, we will immediately contact you 

The Home and Resident’s rooms 

• The home has had furniture removed and stored to facilitate cleaning and the easy movement of food trolleys and other equipment, and as part of additional infection control protocols 

• We are removing all non-essential items from resident rooms to again facilitate cleaning and minimise the opportunity for the virus to spread 

Regular and ongoing communication 

• We are contacting families regularly and daily for those who have a family member who has tested positive to COVID-19 

• Regular CEO updates to families 

• We are communicating with the DHHS and the Commonwealth Department of Health on a daily basis and sometimes several times a day 

• Staff receive updates from the CEO and other parts of the organisation two or three times a week 

• Doutta Galla COVID Control Group have a meeting twice a day to review actions and to make any changes to ensure we are focusing on key matters 

Advocacy 

• Firstly, we continue to strongly advocate for our residents to have priority of access to hospital support if they are COVID positive, regardless of whether they are showing any symptoms. We have had limited success to date and many of our residents are preferring to stay on site as they feel that’s where they will be best supported. 

• As previously advised, in addition to the support that staff are providing to you, you are welcome to contact Elder Rights Advocacy on 1800 171 866 for COVID-19 information and support. We are also working with Elder Rights Advocacy to provide emotional support for our residents. 

• Staff have the Employee Assistance Program easily available to them

• We are working closely with two aged care Peak bodies ACSA and LASA – these agencies are meeting regularly with both the State and Commonwealth Government and are advocating for Government support to Aged Care providers in Victoria 

Each day sees a new challenge in the fight against this virus. We are needing to make quick decisions in the interests of our residents. They are paramount in our thoughts and every resource we have is being provided to ensure we make the right call at the right time. Doutta Galla residents are part of the Doutta Galla community. 

If you have an enquiry or concern about your family member, please call the home on 9687 6744 or on our dedicated phone line which is 8580 2447. The email address for written questions or concerns is covid19questions@dgas.org.au. 

We understand this is a very distressing time for everyone involved and we know even though your family can’t be by your side, we are doing everything we can to protect you and your loved one from this virus. Never more does Doutta Galla’s mantra of “we’re with you” hold firm. 

Yours sincerely 

Vanda Iaconese
CEO