Doutta Galla COVID-19

 9 August 2020 

Dear Residents, Families and Friends, 

Since I last wrote to you on Wednesday night 5 August, Talya has returned to Footscray, after being asked to isolate as a close contact totally unrelated to the Footscray Home. This has bought a smile to the faces of many residents who were so pleased to see her back. Talya will continue to be supported by Karen McDonald who has been working at the home to assist with on-site general management, training of staff, directing and guiding staff in the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

The results from the last round of testing came in this morning. We now have a total of 18 residents onsite, 8 relocated to hospital and sadly we have lost 4 residents. 1 resident has recovered, and 22 staff have tested positive. Testing of residents and staff will continue on a 72-hour rotating basis, with the next scheduled testing to occur on Tuesday 11 August 2020. There has been a change in the process where only currently negative residents are to be tested. 

The Aged Care Liaison Team from Western Health have been attending the home to assess the wellbeing of residents and they have been able to assist in the transfer of residents to hospital. There is one resident unwell who does not have COVID-19 who is being cared for in the home. All other residents remain well. We will continue to advocate to the Department of Health for the transfer of residents to hospital, although we have heard from some residents and families that they prefer to remain in the Home, and this will be taken into consideration where we can. 

We all know how dangerous this virus is and how quickly and easily it can spread. We continue to examine every action every day to see what else we can do to stop the spread in our Home. 

Today we invited a team from the Australian Specialist Medical Assessment Team (AUSMAT) to review our infection control measures. They have been at Footscray for most of the day and pleasingly, they were satisfied with our actions. They have however, been able to provide us with further practical strategies to help, for example further cohorting of the residents. 

This means that AUSMAT has decided that more of the positive and negative residents should be housed separately as much as possible. There are already 3 isolation zones and 2 other zones of varying room sizes. The decision as to how the additional ‘cohorting’ will happen has also made by AUSMAT. 

This has been difficult and as you can imagine many residents are not keen to be moved. However, it is designed to provide increased protection and safety for all the residents living in the Home. As well, staff have had to clean and gently ‘pack up’ rooms of our residents so, that with our assistance, they can return to their own room once the Home is cleared. Vacated rooms also need a ‘deep’ clean before a different resident can go in. 

Moving rooms is not what we would prefer as residents have all their belongings around them, however it is not a choice we can make at this time. Additionally, we have been asked to remove more of the furniture (we had moved a lot already a few weeks ago) and to cordon off common areas for infection control and so that there is no temptation for people to gather. This also makes room for easy access to PPE, managing the movement of equipment around the home and 

assisting the delivery of food to residents’ rooms. They have also asked us to start to give consideration of where residents should move to when they are no longer positive. 

Given the number of staff who have tested positive and those considered close contacts we unfortunately have had to use many agency staff. As far as we can though, we are asking Doutta Galla nurses and carers who able to work, to work longer shifts so that the residents have some familiar people around them. We hope that as the required time passes, and staff are finished their periods of isolation, we can have them back working with us. 

The resilience of the residents and staff continue to inspire me beyond words. Residents and staff are supporting each other in acts of generosity and love. There are such beautiful stories. Yesterday a staff member told me of how a resident who finds it hard to communicate reached out and gave her a kiss on her head – she was moved to tears. 

A Social Worker was available last week. This was well received by the residents and we hope to be able to continue to offer this service to residents, families and staff over the coming weeks. 

Deep cleans of the home occur daily with additional touch point and cleaning processes in place. Staff will continue to wear full PPE when attending to residents. 

We assess residents throughout the day and if there are any changes to a health status we will contact you. 

Please contact the home on 9687 6744 or on our dedicated phone line which is 8580 2447 if you or your family member have an enquiry or concern. The email address for questions is covid19questions@dgas.org.au. 

Yours sincerely 

Vanda Iaconese
CEO