CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

 

7 September 2020

We hope that this news update finds all of our Allity families and friends faring well under the challenges of the covid environment.
It has been a few weeks since our last update with fluid changes to the various state’s health Directives along with a flurry of media attention on Australia’s preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we are beholden to the relevant government policies and Directives, we have always been clear that it is Allity’s responsibility to ensure we have our own COVID-19 preparedness and response plan ready in the unfortunate event of the virus entering any of our Homes.

Since our last update, some of our Homes in Victoria have experienced precautionary lockdowns where an initial case of either a resident or staff testing positive has pre-empted a lockdown of the Home. In each of these cases, we were able to contain the situation without any further residents or staff being affected by the virus and the Homes remain covid-free.

Unfortunately, two of our Homes in Melbourne have experienced an outbreak where a number of residents and staff have developed COVID-19. We have been working closely with all the relevant health authorities to maintain heightened infection control practices and ensure close clinical monitoring of our residents to get through the outbreak as safely and quickly as possible.
We have gained many valuable learnings from our Victorian experience that continue to be incorporated into our outbreak management plan.

As such, all of our Homes across the country that have not been directly affected by coronavirus, recently completed an Outbreak Simulation Lockdown exercise as part of our COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Response Plan.

 

Outbreak Simulation Learnings

The simulations were very beneficial in reinforcing infection control practices. They were also useful in identifying areas for improvement at particular Homes or the need for adaptation depending on the Home’s size, configuration and resident mix. For example, positioning of PPE donning and doffing stations in Homes with narrower corridors, or how a Home would be demarcated into covid positive and negative resident sections (cohorting) if required.

Our NSW Homes engaged with their local health authorities to witness the simulations as part of the testing plan where they were available to attend. We are pleased to report that we received positive feedback on the program. This has given us confidence in our planned approach, while at the same time reinforced the importance of never becoming complacent.

Here are a few key learnings that we would like to share:

The first 8 hours – Families first

As soon as we are notified of a positive case of covid, accurate and timely communication is key to ensuring the checklist of actions are completed in the required order to inform, contain and prevent spread of the virus. This prevents unnecessary panic and provides the reassurance and calm needed for staff to remain at work and to focus on our residents and families as a priority.

Having an up to date directory of our authorised representatives’ contact emails and mobile numbers is critical. By and large, we were able to send SMSs to the nominated representatives, but we also found that we were unable to reach some families primarily because we did not have their current details or items were missing.

As SMS is the quickest and most direct way of contacting you, we ask that you ensure your loved one’s Home has your current mobile phone contact details and email address on record.

You can do this by contacting the Home directly.

Physical Distancing – Visual Cues

The importance of physical distancing has been in our covid psyche since the start of the pandemic. However the unconscious and consistent application of physical distancing practices under confined and pressured conditions can sometimes be a challenge – particularly given the nature of aged care work.

Maintaining the practice of physical distancing requires constant reminding both in and out of the workplace. People’s interpretation of 1.5m may differ. Over-provision of visual cues within public areas is essential. Posters and pictures on walls serve as reminders, but are not enough in enforcing what is required in practice - clearly marked floor plans are a must.

There are some situations where physical distancing is not possible. As such, wearing a mask and face shield will always be the first line of defence in reducing the chances of close contact transmission of the virus.

Waste Management – Scheduling and Equipment

The management of waste is an important component of our infection control practices, and equally important in ensuring our Homes are well presented. This includes maintaining adequate bins and appropriate waste disposal collection schedules at all times.

Conducting the simulations with all staff donning PPE helped our Homes understand the significant increase in the amount of infectious waste that can be generated in an outbreak, over and above what the Homes are equipped to manage in normal times. This drives the scheduling of waste collection processes, as well as the additional labour required in the home to clear the waste.

 

Letter from a Family

The COVID-19 Pandemic has required all of us to adapt, be it how we manage our family life, in the way we now work or devastatingly for some who may longer have employment. But it is those who have lost a loved one to covid that undeniably are the ones our hearts reach out to most.

In closing this edition of our newsletter, we would like to share an extract from a letter that one of our Victorian Homes received earlier this week from a family member who recently lost their beloved mother to natural causes. Hopefully it helps to remind us that amongst all the challenges we face, there is much that is good in our world.


“For four and a half years, my mum was in your home, cared for lovingly, by carers and nurses and managers of different ethnic origins - African, Chinese, Anglo Saxon, Indian, South American, Malaysian, etc.

Over that time, as I had heard the tales of woe from people about the plight of residents in aged care, for the first two years, I went to see mum daily - just to be sure all was well. In all that time, there was not one day that I did not marvel at how caring, friendly, supportive and genuinely empathetic all the staff were. We laughed together, joked together, attended Christmas functions and birthdays together and the camaraderie was something to be treasured.

It became my second home as I got to know each one by name….. When I tried to get mum to come home for the weekend, she would say 'this is now my home, look at how well I am cared for. Please do not worry. I am happy here'.

Mum was addressed as 'dadima', an Indian term of endearment and respect as she was accepted as grandma to all the carers and nurses.

……She often said to me not to come daily, as she was loved there, and after two years, I relented, and visited every second day.
The atmosphere there was loving, and despite some momentary sadness at seeing once powerful career residents slowly age, the times I had conversing with the other residents who had so much respect for mum, and would tell me so, were times that I will miss.

A melting pot of different cultures, ethnicity, origins, and languages culminated into this wonderful gathering of selfless carers that would be the envy of any aged care home.

Even more remarkable was the initiative to start Zoom calls the moment the Covid lockdowns started. That is how resident-caring and family-conscious they were.

They took all Covid precautions, and despite having one scare, managed the lockdown with finesse.

As mum's health declined, as it was during the lockdown restrictions, they organised for daily Zoom calls so we could be in contact with mum, as well as allowed us to say our goodbyes, with all Covid safety precautions.

The nurses and carers were with mum as she passed away peacefully, just an hour and a half after our Zoom call with her.

This is what makes this world so great - that in times of ageing, of isolation, of dying, there are these wonderful people from all walks of life, from different religions, different skin colours, different languages, that step up to care, step up to give hope in a world that sometimes seems careening to chaos and destruction.

The world has more people doing good than harm. Your Home showed that to me.

Sadly those that cause harm are given more air time. Let us change that”.

______________________________________ 

 5 September 2020 12.00pm

NSW HEALTH ALERT

Read Alert here

NSW HEALTH has today at 12.00pm confirmed advice for residents in Sydney Metropolitan, Nepean Blue Mountains and Central Coast regions to not visit friends and family in aged care Homes on Father’s Day 6-September 2020.

NSW Health acknowledges this will be difficult for many families, the priority is to prevent the spread of the virus to the most vulnerable people in our community.

We support the directives and advice of NSW Health and apologise for any inconvenience.

We encourage families to contact loved ones by video calls or scheduling of window visits over the coming days.

_____________________________

18 August 2020

In February 2020, Allity established a centralised COVID-19 Outbreak Management Team to develop an Emergency Response Plan to ensure we are as prepared as possible to:

  1. Prevent entry of coronavirus into our Homes; and
  2. Contain the virus in the event of an outbreak to limit further spread

This plan is in addition to our usual processes and protocols for infection prevention and control as extra measures to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees.

With Victoria recently suffering elevated levels of community transmission, we have experienced one outbreak and had several of our Melbourne homes placed in precautionary lockdown.

Our Emergency Response Plan has been repeatedly called into action and demonstrated good results. Having staff and residents as prepared as possible for what the plan entails is crucial.

As such we are conducting brief OUTBREAK SIMULATION LOCKDOWNS across our Allity Homes as part of our COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Response Plan.

Families and representatives will be receiving notification of when the simulation will be occurring, in each Home location.

The simulations will be conducted over 24hr period outbreak all homes that have so far been directly unaffected by coronavirus.

The simulations will be conducted as follows:

  • Wed 19-Aug and Thu 20-Aug: NSW and Victoria
  • Monday 24 August: Riverwood Aged Care
  • Wednesday 26 August: QLD and South Australia

 

Purpose of the simulations

The objectives of conducting the simulations are to:

  • Test the Home’s preparedness with staff competencies in Infection Control Practices, more specifically the correct use of PPE;
  • Inform the Outbreak Management Team as to any areas requiring further focussed training; 
  • Provide residents with a view of what an outbreak would mean for them – e.g. all staff will be in full PPE. However for this exercise, residents will not be required to stay in their rooms;
  • Engage with local authorities with our testing and plan where appropriate

Authorised Representatives will receive an SMS on the morning of the SIMULATION as part of our communication protocols. You will not be required to do anything.

 

How we need families to assist

Current contact details

In the event of an Outbreak or Precautionary Lockdown, our objective is for our families, residents and staff to be informed as soon as possible by Allity. This will initially be via a text message to the authorised representative’s mobile phone.

Being able to provide timely alerts and family calls is reliant on the correct contact details (phone and emails) being on file at the Home.

As SMS is the quickest and most direct way of contacting you, we ask that you ensure your loved one’s Home has your current mobile phone contact details and email address on record.

You can do this by contacting the Home directly.

We are committed to ensuring the safety of our residents and staff and extend our sincerest thanks to all of our families for your support and understanding during these challenging times.

______________________________________

 

5 August 2020

In the past month, considerable attention has been placed on events in Victoria. With NSW and now QLD on high alert and reporting new COVID cases daily, it is a stark reminder of how community transmission of coronavirus can spread exponentially. There is no place for complacency and we must remain vigilant in our social practices and hygiene.

QLD visitor restrictions

The QLD Health Minister has announced Queensland Government directives that impact on all Allity’s homes in Queensland. The following access restrictions are now in effect:

Visitors

• No personal visitors are allowed to enter, except for end of life support
• Anyone entering a facility must wear a single use surgical face mask

Residents

Cannot leave the facility unless they are receiving health care, attending a funeral or for an emergency or for compassionate reasons

In addition, aged care operators must make sure staff do not work across multiple sites as much as possible. Anyone providing medical care (including staff, volunteers or family members) must wear appropriate PPE as outlined in the Australian Guidelines

NSW visitor restrictions

There is no change to visitor restrictions in NSW which remains at Essential visits only for residents:

  • Receiving end of life care and support
  • Experiencing extreme emotional and/or mental stress
  • Who have a clearly established pattern of involvement from a visitor in providing their care and support as an essential part of their care plan

COVID Preparations & Advanced Planning

Our experience in Victoria over the past month with one home having an outbreak and others in precautionary lockdown has given us invaluable learnings to further improve our COVID Response Plan. Communication with families and staff in advance, to help everyone understand the procedures involved and what to expect in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID is crucial.

As such, we wanted to provide you with information on some of the key elements of our response plan and what you can expect in the event it is triggered in any of our homes in NSW or QLD.
Allity Emergency Response Plan

This will be triggered in one of two scenarios:

  1. A COVID Outbreak = when a resident living in the Home tests positive;
  2. A Precautionary Lockdown = when a staff member or resident who is outside of the Home tests positive, but importantly there are no confirmed COVID cases in the Home.


Notification
In the event of an Outbreak or Precautionary Lockdown, our objective is for our families, residents and staff to be informed as soon as possible by Allity. This will initially be via a text message to the authorised representative’s mobile phone.

As SMS is the quickest and most direct way of contacting you, we ask that you ensure your loved one’s Home has your current mobile phone contact details on record.

Within a few hours of receiving the SMS message, all families will be personally called to provide a status update and answer any questions you may have. We will also establish how frequently you would like to be contacted for further updates.

What we have found to be critically important and reduces the level of anxiety is that the nominated representative communicates with other family members and/or friends to keep them updated as soon as possible. This assists the Home in reducing the number of calls it needs to make so that staff can focus on assisting residents and working through our outbreak plan.

Visitor Access

The Home will automatically go into lockdown with no visitors allowed until such time as it is deemed safe to do so with the guidance of local health authorities. Compassionate requests will always be considered.

Staffing during an outbreak

Allity has a centralised Outbreak Management Team that is on call 24/7 in the event of an outbreak occurring in one of our Homes. One of the key functions of the outbreak team is workforce provision and protection. The team meets daily to review the impacted home’s staffing roster for that day, as well as forecasting needs for the days following.

It is expected that during an outbreak, there will be staff who may need to self-isolate as a result of being a close contact of a confirmed positive case, are unwell, or have made the decision to not work in a COVID environment – all of which impact staff availability. In this situation, our priority is always to do what is necessary to have a full complement of staff to safely care for residents.

To do this, we may reach out to other Allity homes for staff who are familiar with our practices and policies. In this scenario, we would request that the staff member remain at the outbreak home for the duration of the outbreak.

We may also need to seek agency staff. In this case we will provide them with training to make sure they have the infection control knowledge required to work at the Home. Agency staff can be sourced via a government surge workforce or private agencies.

Staff working at multiple sites

There is concern around the increased risk of transmission if staff or contractors work at different aged care homes or other community centres.

Currently in Victoria, the government has required all aged care workers select a single site and only work in that one facility as a means of reducing the risk of further transmission of the virus.

QLD has directed that staff do not work across multiple facilities as much as possible. It is likely that NSW will follow suit. Our preference under the current COVID situation is to have staff work in one Home only and we are currently reviewing and adjusting our rosters to try and achieve this.

Where this is not possible, we mitigate risk through our staff health screening and declaration process that requires staff to disclose if they work in other aged care facilities with confirmed COVID-19 or have frequented any published hot spots. This must be completed before commencement of any shift.

Personal Protective Equipment 

Our centralised Outbreak Management Team reviews and reports on PPE inventory at impacted Homes and in the centralised Allity stores on a daily basis. All supplies are managed centrally with a forward looking view of maintaining at least 1-2 weeks of PPE supplies in the Home. 

Allity has relationships with local and overseas suppliers as well as the ability to request PPE from a government stockpile if required. As such, our Homes have sufficient ongoing supplies of PPE.

For our Homes across Victoria and NSW, staff are required to wear masks while in the Home. We also provide them with masks for traveling to and from work.

Hospital Transfers

In the event of a resident testing positive for COVID-19, our strong preference is to transfer the resident to hospital as soon as is possible.

QLD Health has publically supported this view and advised that in virtually all situations they will facilitate the treatment of COVID positive residents in hospital.

NSW Health have not been definitive on this matter, instead indicating they will make decisions on whether to transfer residents or not on a case by case basis.

Cohorting of Residents

During an outbreak, the safety of every resident must be considered. As such there may be instances where, under the direction of health authorities, we will be required to temporarily relocate residents within the Home to contain and minimise the risk of the virus spreading. In the event of this need, families will always be consulted to ensure the transition is managed smoothly for the comfort and safety of the resident.

Taking my loved one out of the Home

Some families may want to take their loved one out of a home that is experiencing a precautionary lockdown or outbreak of COVID-19. It is important that you know you are able to take your loved one home through the non-hospital ‘social leave’ process. This is subject to the resident having a current negative test result.

We will help you to understand the ongoing care needs of your loved one which will need to be continued while they are away from the Home. Please note your loved one will not be able to return until the lockdown or outbreak is declared officially over by the health authorities.

Communication updates

After the first 24 hours, we will commence regular daily updates via email as well as daily phone calls with authorised family representatives. A 1-800 COVID information line will also be made available for general enquiries.

A dedicated area of the Allity website will also be set up for Homes with an outbreak or precautionary lockdown to provide access to the latest information at any time.

We hope that this information as assisted you in understanding some of the key processes involved in the event of a COVID outbreak or precautionary lockdown. We also recommend that you review information provided by the Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission if you would like to find out more.

 ______________________________

 

29 July 2020

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Victoria resulting from elevated levels of community transmission, with particular focus on the residential aged care sector. NSW has also seen increases, albeit to a lesser degree. Allity continues to exercise high levels of caution in both states to ensure we are best placed to avoid the devastating consequences we have seen in Victoria recently.

Tackling a coronavirus outbreak in our Glendale home in Victoria over the past three weeks has put Allity’s COVID-19 emergency response plan to the test. We have experienced the volatility and relentless nature of the virus, and learnt that we must work tremendously hard to stay ahead of it.

We are focussing our efforts on areas that are critical to keep our residents and staff safe:

  • workforce screening and covid-safe working practices
  • training staff in the correct use of PPE
  • maintaining ongoing supply of all necessary PPE
  • securing the right complement of staff to look after residents
  • regular communication with families, staff and residents; and
  • daily contact with health authorities for support and direction

To help our residents and families understand what happens if an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs in an aged care facility, the Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission recently released a set of resources that residents and families will find useful.

Information guide from the ACQSC

Watch a video from the Department of Health

 

Staff working at a Single Site - Victoria

In an effort to control further spread of COVID-19 in the aged care sector, the Victorian state government has issued guiding principles lasting until 25 September 2020, whereby staff are required to be based at one aged care home only.

For Allity’s Victorian employees who work at more than one home, we have requested they notify us of which home they are electing as their single site. This is to ensure we can put provisions in place to maintain a full complement of staff across all our homes at all times.

Workforce management in COVID times

Recent media reports have referred to workforce shortages in the aged care sector due to elevated infection rates, complexity around close contacts, and mandated isolation periods. We have received questions around the status of staffing in our homes resulting from this.

Allity has a dedicated centralised workforce management team that supports the rostering process and recruitment to help maintain stable staffing levels across our Homes. COVID-19 has presented challenges with staff in self-isolation, on sick leave and some opting not to work in more volatile environments such as aged care.

Our preference is to have our Homes roster staff exclusive to them. However, in a situation where we foresee a risk of being short-staffed we will use agency workers as a last resort. In this case, they must complete our disclosure declarations which include notification of not having worked in other aged care facilities with outbreaks and/or declared as hot spots.

We are currently living in anxious times, without any real indication of when things may revert back to some level of normality. We genuinely encourage families to contact us directly if you have any concerns or questions in relation to loved ones and assure you that we are committed to supporting you in whatever way we can during these challenging times.

Finally, some wise words that we came across recently that remind us all to stay vigilant with our personal hygiene and physical distancing practices – ‘the virus doesn’t walk – we walk the virus

Please stay safe and well.

 

 _____________________

 

21 July 2020

As each state continues to work its way through the evolving challenges of COVID-19, we are seeing regulations and advice change frequently. The COVID restriction tracker is a useful tool to keep you updated.

For our Homes in each state, we carefully monitor and are guided by the status of restrictions in the relevant states. We then assess the level of risk for our homes, and apply the most appropriate visitor and infection control protocols to protect the health and safety of our residents and staff.

We take this opportunity to provide you with a general update on key areas of focus for us.

Use of Masks

As previously communicated, all our staff in Victoria and NSW are required to wear masks when in our homes and providing care to residents, this also applies to any visitors.

A state government directive has now been announced in Victoria for the mandatory wearing of face coverings by all people whenever leaving home in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire. This will take effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday 22 July. In other regional areas of Victoria, it is recommended when keeping a 1.5m distance is not possible.

If you have chosen to use a washable fabric mask, we recommend checking the World Health Organisation’s video guide on the correct use of fabric masks.

 

Hospital Transfers

There has been much discussion between government and aged care peak bodies as well as media commentary relating to hospital transfer for residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. The states have differing positions on this issue, but what is clear is that the decision ultimately lies with local government health authorities, who will make the decision on a case-by-case basis.

Allity’s strong preference is for any residents who have tested positive to be transferred to hospital to ensure that appropriate care is provided and the health and safety of all our residents and staff is best protected.

 

Victoria Update

The rate of COVID-19 infections has continued to fluctuate overall with daily increases in the rate of community transmission entering aged care homes.

Visits to our Victorian Homes are restricted to Essential Visits only, with the additional measure that all staff and visitors must wear masks while in the Home. We have also provided masks for staff to travel to and from work.

On 19-July, the DHHS announced with the risk of transmission in aged care settings remaining high that all aged care staff will be able to access free testing, even if they don’t have symptoms.

 

NSW Update

We would like to extend our thanks to all of our families and staff who have expressed support for the tightening of our visitor access restrictions in NSW in light of the emerging trend of positive transmissions across the state.

We do understand returning to stricter access controls is difficult for families and residents, our aim is to do whatever is possible to keep our Homes COVID-free.

Like Victoria, all Allity Homes in NSW have mandated the wearing of masks by all staff and essential visitors to our Homes. We have implemented increased screening assessment and declarations that prohibit access to anyone who has been to the coronavirus hotspots notified by the state government.

 

South Australia and Queensland

Consistent with last week’s update, our SA and QLD Homes continue to welcome social visits, while emphasising the importance of remaining vigilant with personal hygiene and social distancing practices.

Finally, our Homes have received many words of encouragement and thanks which have been much appreciated during these challenging times. The greatest thanks that we can offer to our dedicated healthcare workers who put themselves on the frontline every day to protect our loved ones, is to do things that can directly suppress the transmission of the virus and thereby reduce the risk of harm to them.

Let’s keep doing the things that make a real impact in fighting the pandemic:

  • Wash and sanitise your hands regularly
  • Practice physical distancing
  • If you are feeling unwell, stay home; and
  • Wear a mask if required and as directed by health authorities

We all have an important part to play in keeping each other safe.

 

______________________

 

13 July 2020

The large increase in COVID-19 infections in the Melbourne area over the past week is a major concern for all of us. In particular, we have been closely monitoring the growing rate of community transmission which has led to outbreaks in a number of aged care homes.

There is also now an escalating situation in NSW. We hope that this will be able to be contained, however we do not have the luxury of time to find out. If the situation deteriorates further it may already be too late to take effective action.

What we have learnt through the ongoing advice of health authorities, other aged care providers and now our own experience in Glendale, is how critical early preparation is in preventing the potential entry of COVID-19 into a home and in limiting its impact if it does.

As such, there are some important additional measures that we will be implementing in order to further protect our residents and staff. In particular, two specific actions will limit community contact into our homes, and enhance infection control measures to reduce likelihood of transmission.

Use of Face Masks

We are making it a requirement for all staff to wear face masks at all times throughout all our Victorian and NSW homes. We will also be providing staff with disposable masks for traveling to and from work.

NSW Visitor Access

From Wednesday 15th July, all Allity Homes in NSW will tighten visitor restrictions in line with those already applied in Victoria. This means that only Essential Visits will be allowed for residents who are:

  • Undergoing end of life care
  • Experiencing extreme emotional and/or mental stress
  • Have a clearly established pattern of involvement from a visitor in providing their care and support as an essential part of their care plan

Essential visitors will be required to complete our Pre-visit checklist and we ask that you monitor your own health status during this critical time. Face masks for visitors are mandatory. If you feel even mildly unwell, please do not come into the Home, even if the visit is considered essential.

In addition, NSW Health has announced that anyone who has attended venues with a confirmed link to a COVID-19 case is prohibited from entering any aged care homes until 14 days after they last attended the venue and are well. Please refer to the official media release for details.

We understand that these restrictions will be difficult for families and aim to relax them as soon as it is prudent to do so. During this time, we want to encourage you to stay connected with your loved one by booking in for our Zoom Wellbeing calls by calling your Home directly.

SA and QLD Visitor Access

There is no change to our visitor policy in South Australia and Queensland, where we will continue to welcome Social Visits. Keeping our residents and each other safe can only happen if we all take personal responsibility for our actions. Complacency is something we cannot afford and the importance of staying diligent and disciplined with hygiene practices and physical distancing is crucial.

As always, we greatly appreciate your support, patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the constantly changing COVID environment.

________________________

 

10 July 2020

Winding the clock back to May, it was unforeseen that Victoria would return to reporting double digit and now hundreds of new positive COVID cases daily. This demonstrates the volatility of the situation and how rapidly change can occur.

Allity, like all health and aged care groups across Australia, has a strong and ongoing focus on ensuring a robust risk management plan is in place for COVID-19. In addition to our usual processes and protocols for infection prevention and control, we have maintained extra measures to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees across our homes.

Despite these additional safety measures, on 7 July, our Glendale home in Victoria notified the local Public Health Unit, all residents, families and staff members that a resident had tested positive for COVID-19 while in hospital. The resident has remained in hospital and is being treated there.

In line with our Emergency Response procedures, the Home immediately commenced working with the local state and federal health authorities (PHU and DHHS) to ensure Glendale is well supported and all processes are in place to manage and prevent potential spread of the virus. This included home-wide COVID-19 testing for all staff and residents on 8 July.

Since then four staff members have returned positive results for COVID-19. They are self-isolating and we are maintaining contact with them to provide support as and when needed. In addition, a resident who is asymptomatic and otherwise well, tested positive today.

Contact tracing is currently underway.

All residents are staying in their rooms and are attended to regularly by staff wearing full PPE who have been allocated to specific neighbourhoods in the home.

Care staffing levels continue to be stable, and additional support is being provided through a specialist workforce agency. As a priority, we are keeping in daily contact with families and representatives.

Importantly, we are very grateful for the timely and significant support of the PHU and DHHS. Collaboratively, we are putting all necessary measures and resources in place to minimise risk and for staff to feel confident and safe to come to work.

Whilst the focus is currently on Victoria, there is always a risk of COVID-19 overspill into other states, particularly NSW despite the closing of the border.

At this stage, we will continue to support social visits across our Homes in NSW but ask that families please minimise visits as much as possible over the next couple of weeks as we cautiously see how the situation develops.

We cannot stress enough the importance of staying diligent and disciplined with hygiene practices and physical distancing.

As always, we greatly appreciate your support, patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the ever-changing COVID environment.

 

_________________________________

 

7 July 2020

Protecting the health, wellbeing and safety of residents, staff and visitors is very important to us as we continue to monitor and respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As you may be aware, the Victorian government has made several announcements over the last few days relating to the rapid rise in coronavirus cases in the state. The most recent announcement outlines measures to help reduce the risk of further community transmission.

In line with government and public health advice, it’s critical that as an aged care services provider, we take necessary steps to help keep our Homes and communities safe.

Effective immediately, the following measures will apply to all Allity Homes in Victoria:

Visiting guidelines

Unfortunately, the risk of community infection is a threat to older Australians across Victoria. We will therefore be tightening their visiting restrictions in all Homes in the state until further notice. This means that only essential visits will be allowed for residents.

Essential visitors will be required to complete our Pre-visit checklist and we ask that you monitor your own health status over this critical time and if you feel even mildly unwell, please do not come into the Home, even if the visit is considered essential.

Staying connected

We encourage you to stay connected with your loved ones by booking in for video calls. Please be assured that we will facilitate family visits with compassion, to the best of our ability in accordance with state directives, and in a manner that maintains a safe and COVID-free environment across our Homes.

Continued infection control measures

The best way to control infection is to prevent it. We will continue to carry out our stringent infection control procedures in each Home, and will continue health screening for staff at the beginning of every shift. Any staff member or visitor with respiratory symptoms will not be allowed into our Homes.

We want to reassure you that we are following government and public health advice daily, and are keeping a close watch on all of our communities so that we can keep everyone safe.

_______________________________

 

26 June 2020

Following up from our newsletter earlier in the week, there have been daily updates particularly in relation to Victoria with more specific information released on the location of the hotspots as well as a focussed testing blitz in the priority areas of risk.

In response to the government announcements, our Homes in Victoria tightened visitor access early this week. We are extremely grateful for the support of families, understanding we had only recently eased restrictions. The risk of community infection has proven to remain a threat with the ongoing safety of our residents and staff remaining our priority.

The suburbs that have now been identified as having the highest rates of community transmission are as follows:

Broadmeadows, Keilor Downs, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.

We want to reassure you that we are keeping a close watch on our Homes that are in proximity to these suburbs and relevant LGAs.

As precautionary measures:

  • Additional screening questions are in place to increase staff awareness of their movements in relation to hotspot locations as a condition of entry into the Homes.
  • Visitors and staff to Allity Homes in NSW must declare they have not travelled to Melbourne in the previous 14 days, if so they will be denied entry.

Noting, South Australia and Queensland are not allowing visitors from Victoria and therefore presents less risk for those states.

As always, we want to emphasise the importance of everyone playing their part to keep the community safe. This includes staying safe inside your own homes if you have guests visiting by maintaining 1.5m between people from different households and keeping visitors to a minimum to help reduce the spread of community infection.

While NSW have reported some new cases this week, there has been no requirement for changes to existing state directives, as such visitor policy in states apart from Victoria will continue to welcome social visits.

In light of what is happening in Victoria, for states that have eased restrictions allowing residents to attend external family gatherings, we cannot stress the importance of keeping your loved one’s safety at the forefront of your mind by limiting their exposure to risk of infection and vigilance with hygiene and physical distancing practices.

You can refer to our website for visitor access updates by region as we receive information from the various health authorities.

For our families in Victoria, we encourage you to stay connected with your loved ones by booking in for the video calls. Please be assured that we will facilitate family visits with compassion and to the best of our ability in accordance with state directives, and in a manner that maintains a safe and COVID-free environment across our Homes.

 

 _________________________________

 

22 June 2020

As you may be aware, Victoria is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases linked to community related outbreaks, with a majority of new Victorian cases reported to be from large family gatherings. In recent days, COVID-19 outbreaks have even been identified in a handful of Melbourne based aged care homes. Some cases are still under investigation.

This concerning increase follows a period of positive downward trends in the rate of infection experienced across Australia, and serves to remind us of the importance of not being complacent with hygiene and physical distancing practices.

In line with the Victorian government’s decision to suspend further easing of restrictions, and the consideration of locking-down local hotspots, we see a need to continue heightened precautions in our approach. The risk of community infection has proven to remain a threat – particularly to our most vulnerable citizens. The ongoing safety of our residents and staff remains our priority.

Our Homes in Victoria will therefore be tightening their visiting restrictions from 7pm tonight. This means that only Essential visits will be allowed for residents who are:

  • Undergoing end of life care
  • Experiencing extreme emotional and/or mental stress
  • Have a clearly established pattern of involvement from a visitor in providing their care and support as an essential part of their care plan

Essential visitors will be required to complete our Pre-visit checklist and we ask that you monitor your own health status over this critical time and if you feel even mildly unwell, please do not come into the Home, even if the visit is considered essential. During this, hopefully short period until conditions improve, we will be facilitating technology-assisted social visits in the same manner as we were prior to the relaxation of visiting restrictions last month.

No changes are being made to our visitor policy in other states, where we will continue to welcome social visits.

For states that have eased restrictions allowing residents to attend external family gatherings, we cannot stress the importance of keeping your loved one’s safety at the forefront of your mind by ensuring you are limiting their exposure to risk of infection, and maintaining vigilance with hygiene and physical distancing practices.

We have created a page on our website to provide COVID information by Region and will endeavour to keep it current as we receive updates from the various state government health authorities.

As always, we greatly appreciate your support, patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the ever-changing COVID environment. Please be assured that we will facilitate your visits with compassion and to the best of our ability in accordance with state directives, and in a manner that maintains a safe and COVID-free environment across our Homes.

_______________________________

 

18 June 2020

A direction was released by SA Health today with changes to conditions of entry into residential aged care homes identifying some changes to what has been in effect.

We welcome the relaxing of the restrictions as a positive move for our residents who can leave the home for social reasons and also receive visits from family members under the age of 16; provided they have proof of having received their influenza vaccination.

Unfortunately, these changes have come without forewarning, and we therefore ask for your patience and understanding as we work with our staff to manage the expected increase in visitors, particularly over this coming weekend.
With the significant relaxing of restrictions, we see a need to continue to be cautious in our approach as the risk of community infection, however small, is always a threat – particularly to our most vulnerable citizens. The ongoing safety of our residents and staff remains our priority.

As such, to assist us in managing the entry screening process and completion of appropriate resident risk assessments, we ask that families contact us in advance to book in your visit or time for pick-up of your loved ones, in line with the processes that are currently in place.

We thank you for your support as we move into the weekend, and please be assured that we will be facilitating your visits to the best of our ability and in a manner that maintains a safe and COVID-free environment across our Homes.

Meanwhile……let’s keep working towards a COVID Safe way of living and not become complacent by staying ever more vigilant, regardless of where you are, with:

Hand washing and sanitising hygiene

  • Respiratory hygiene practices – sneezing and coughing etiquette
  • Appropriate flu vaccination
  • Social distancing at all times
  • Keeping the COVIDSafe App open on your mobile phone

We look forward to welcoming you back into our Homes.

____________________________

 

11 June 2020

Since the first case of COVID-19 in Australia in 25th January, life has progressively changed for everyone from our work habits, family routines, and social interactions to a having a greater awareness of good hygiene practices which hopefully the community will reap the benefits of well into the future – post COVID-19.

For Allity, ‘no news is good news’ as we remain COVID free across our Homes. The risk of community infection is always a threat, and post the rallies held in major cities last week we must be prepared for the possibility that there may be some increase in community cases.

In our last COVID-19 update on 27 May, positive test results were reported in aged care Homes in the Melbourne metropolitan area, fortunately, there are currently no new cases. We continue to stay abreast of updates from these homes, and thank you for your support as we maintain disciplined screening processes across Homes in proximity to the affected area.

We have had some questions in relation to residents being able to leave the Home. In South Australia and Queensland we continue to work under the state directives particularly in relation to restrictions on residents leaving aged care premises. We expect with a continuation of the positive trends, that directions will progressively ease, and will keep you updated as we receive government advice.

We want to reassure you that as we gradually become more confident in the eventual relaxing of visitor restrictions, we have not relaxed our focus on ensuring our Outbreak Emergency Response Plan is effective if the need arises. This includes conducting mock scenarios in selected Homes as part of our response practices.

Keeping you informed

Following the peak of cases in late March to mid-April, Australia has continued to see relatively low numbers of new cases reported daily which has allowed us all to move towards a return to our normal way of life and routines.

As such, we for see less of a need for specific COVID-19 newsletters. However, please be assured that we are committed to keeping you updated with the latest news and any changes that may impact our residents and families as they arise.

We will be preparing to re-introduce our Allity ‘Topicks’ newsletter as a means of providing you with aged care industry specific news, innovation and education. The Bi-monthly newsletter is also a way of making sure you are directed to reliable sources of information when it comes to aged care related issues. We envisage the first Topicks newsletter will be published in July.

Allity Social Media

Another great way of keeping up to date with what is happening across Allity is through our social media channels. We are always looking for more ways of staying connected.

Our official Allity Facebook page and Instagram account were recently opened to the public, which has had a very positive uptake. We invite you to follow / like our page as another way of connecting and sharing the stories from across our Homes.

Our purpose for creating the Facebook page is to provide a platform for positive and constructive conversations, and encourage people to join us in the spirit intended.

Simply click on the icons below to jump onto our Allity accounts.

   

We look forward to having you as part of the Allity Social Community.

Meanwhile……let’s keep working towards a COVID Safe way of living and not become complacent by staying ever more vigilant, regardless of where you are, with:

  • Hand washing and sanitising hygiene
  • Respiratory hygiene practices – sneezing and coughing etiquette
  • Social distancing at all times
  • Keeping the COVIDSafe App open on your mobile phone

Stay well!

_____________________________ 

 

 27 May 2020


As the nation moves into the 3rd week of adopting the government’s 3-Step Framework for a COVID-Safe Australia, each State has released region-specific directives with variations in the speed and conditions relating to the relaxing of restrictions.

In the Prime Minister’s address, he made it clear that any changes to restrictions require a settling-in period to cautiously monitor the impact, particularly in relation to the level of community infection. To date, the infection rate across Australia remains promisingly low.

We are working methodically through our visitor, activities and entertainer policies and the relevant operational processes. This is to ensure they align to each state’s directives, and as such, we request your patience as we implement the necessary controls to ensure this is done safely and sustainably.

In the last few days there have been positive COVID-19 cases reported in aged care Homes in the Melbourne metropolitan area. We are staying abreast of updates from these homes, and ask for your support as we continue to maintain disciplined screening processes across Homes in proximity to the affected area.

As reinforced by all health authorities, underpinning each step of the 3-Step Framework is a COVID Safe way of living and we must not become complacent, this means staying ever more vigilant, regardless of where you are with:

  • Hand washing and sanitising hygiene
  • Respiratory hygiene practices – sneezing and coughing etiquette
  • Social distancing at all times
  • Keeping the COVIDSafe App open on your mobile phone


Allity Social Media

During these COVID-19 times, we are all looking for more ways of staying connected.

We are excited to announce that we have now launched our official Allity Facebook page as well as opened our Instagram account to the public. We take this opportunity to encourage you to follow / like our page as another way of sharing the stories from across our Homes.

Our purpose for creating the Facebook page is to provide a platform for positive and constructive conversations, and encourage people to join us in the spirit intended.

Simply click on the icons below to jump onto our Allity accounts.

        


We look forward to having you as part of the Allity Social Community.

 

_________________________________ 

 

19 May 2020

 

3-Step Framework for a COVID-Safe Australia

A key announcement last week from the Prime Minister was the introduction of the 3-Step Framework that provides a guide for each State to make decisions on the progressive relaxing of restrictions and re-opening of businesses and community activity.
Underpinning each step of the plan is a COVID Safe way of living and maintaining vigilance with hygiene and social distancing critical to staying safe.

Over the next few weeks, our Homes will be reintroducing scenic bus trips and permitting external lifestyle facilitators and entertainers to enter our homes. This must be done mindfully, taking into account the management of social distancing on our buses as well as ensuring all external visitors have their influenza vaccinations. We ask for your patience as we work through the processes to ensure this is done safely and sustainably.

 

Emergency Response Plan

With visitor access to our Homes now relaxed and aligned to the new industry Visitor Code, we have remained steadfast in our preparedness through our Emergency Response Plan.

At the time of writing this newsletter, it was announced that four aged care homes in Melbourne have gone into lockdown today, with residents testing positive for COVID-19 in at least two cases. This is a stark reminder that, we cannot afford to lower our guard in maintaining strict adherence to the current safety policies in place. We will continue to assess any risk to Allity homes from local outbreaks and respond appropriately.

Whilst Allity has not had any cases of COVID-19 in any of its homes or impacting any of its staff, there is possibility that despite our best efforts this may change in the future. Here is what you can expect to happen in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in any of our Homes.

Communication:

Our objective is for families, residents and staff to be informed as soon as possible by an Allity representative. For families, this will be via a text message to each resident’s nominated representative’s mobile phone.

As SMS is the quickest and most direct way of contacting you, we ask that you ensure the Home your loved ones lives in has their nominated representative’s mobile phone contact details on record.

Following the SMS message, we will have a team in place to contact all nominated representatives personally by phone to provide a status update and answer any questions you may have. We will also establish how frequently you would like to be contacted for updates.
It is important that the nominated representative communicates with other family members and/or friends to update them as soon as possible. This will assist the Home in reducing the number of calls staff need to make, so they can focus on activating our outbreak plan.

Visitor Access:

The Home will automatically go into lockdown and Level-3 restrictions will apply where no visitors will be allowed into the Home until such time as it is deemed safe to do so with the guidance of local health authorities. However, we will always maintain a compassionate approach with visit requests.

Regular updates:

After the first 24 hours, we will commence regular daily updates via email as well as via phone calls at the frequency agreed with you. Updates will also be provided on the Allity website accessed through the Coronavirus Update page.

As always, our priority is the safety of our residents and staff in our Homes, by working together we will keep our community safe.

 

 __________________________

 

13 May 2020

 

Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19

An industry Visit Code developed by both consumer and provider organisations was released this week to provide guiding principles for visiting aged care homes in a way that minimises the risk of introduction or spread of COVID-19 into the homes.
The key principles of the Code cover:


•   Different ways for visits to occur
•   The length of visits
•   Where visits should be conducted
•   The need for booking systems
•   Additional ways for families to connect – Video conferencing and telephone
•   Legislative requirements of government directives – influenza vaccinations


Allity fully supports the Code and we have reviewed our visitor policies to ensure they align with the principles outlined. The Code will be reviewed on 29 May to address any concerns or issues experienced in its implementation.

While the Code provides guidance to conducting safe visits, it is critically important that everyone is vigilant in taking personal responsibility with practising hand and respiratory hygiene and maintaining physical distancing at all times.

With the progressive relaxing of restrictions, we mustn’t become complacent as the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 infection is highly possible with increased interactions in and around the community. We ask that you continue to work with us in ensuring we are able to facilitate visits whilst maintaining a COVID-19 free environment across our Homes.

 

Aged Care Royal Commission

The Royal Commission (RC) is now calling for submissions from the general public and organisations relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the aged care sector. Aged care recipients, families, supporters, providers and staff are all encouraged to respond.

Allity supports the work of the RC and we believe it is vital that the Commissioners remain well informed and receive balanced constructive submissions upon which to assess the impact of COVID-19 and how the sector has responded.

We would like to encourage as many of you as possible to participate in the Royal Commission’s call out for submissions. Directly hearing about your experience will greatly benefit the objectivity and outcomes of the RC.

You can provide information in any of the following ways:

  • Online - the submission form can be completed entirely online
  • Mail - a printed submission form or write to the RC at GPO Box 1151, ADELAIDE SA 5001
  • Call - 1800 960 711 between 8.30am – 5.30pm ACST, Monday-Friday except on public holidays.
  • Email - ACRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au 
  • Send a video or audio recording - the recording must not be more than 25MB. If it is larger you can send it in several parts (in English or language)

 

 ____________________________

 

8 May 2020

 

Aged Care Royal Commission

The Royal Commission (RC) is now calling for submissions from the general public and organisations relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the aged care sector. Aged care recipients, families, supporters, providers and staff are all encouraged to respond.

Allity supports the work of the RC and we believe it is vital that the Commissioners remain well informed and receive balanced constructive submissions upon which to assess the impact of COVID-19 and how the sector has responded.

We would like to encourage as many of you as possible to participate in the Royal Commission’s call out for submissions. Directly hearing about your experience will greatly benefit the objectivity and outcomes of the RC. You can find out more about submissions here.

You can provide information in any of the following ways:

  • Online the submission form can be completed entirely online
  • Mail a printed submission form or write to the RC at GPO Box 1151, ADELAIDE SA 5001
  • Call 1800 960 711 between 8.30am – 5.30pm ACST, Monday-Friday except on public holidays.
  • Email ACRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au
  • Send a video or audio recording - the recording must not be more than 25MB. If it is larger you can send it in several parts (in English or language)

 

COVID-19 Residential Aged Care Testing Scheme

On 1 May, the Victorian Health and Human Services Department released a COVID-19 Testing Program for Residential Aged Care providers encouraging asymptomatic staff to be voluntarily tested. Allity has welcomed this scheme because we believe it reinforces our robust infection prevention and control measures. Requesting staff who do not show symptoms to be tested increases our chances of uncovering infections quickly, so we can mitigate the impact of anyone unknowingly spreading COVID-19.

As part of our commitment to maintaining a healthy and COVID-free environment for our residents and staff, Allity is supporting the Victorian DHSS campaign to undertake additional COVID-19 testing across Victoria.

 

3 Step Framework for COVIDSafe Australia

As we now work towards the government’s staged easing of restrictions, we want to remind everyone that maintaining vigilance in physical distancing and hygiene practices remains crucial to keeping our residents and each other safe.

With a clearer path ahead, we envisage the frequency of changes and news to report via this COVID-19 newsletter will lessen. However, please be assured that we are committed to maintaining our communication with relevant and timely information to keep you updated.

 

________________________________

 

6 May 2020

We take this opportunity to provide an update on the Visitor Policy for our Sydney Metro area homes. As previously noted, we are continually looking at COVID-19 trends within the community and refer to government guidance as key elements of our risk assessment in determining the most appropriate visitor policy at any point in time.

As such, from Thursday 7 May, Essential Visits by residents’ nominated representatives will be permitted at all Sydney Metro Homes in line with other Allity Homes.

Community infection rates in Sydney are now largely contained, excepting the localised crisis at Newmarch Aged Care in western Sydney. We therefore believe it is appropriate to allow limited in-room visits to our homes in the region.

These visits will be ‘Essential’ in nature and will be subject to strict criteria and conditions of entry (see below for details). This is line with the Aged Care Visitor Access Code and our own risk assessment.

We encourage all families in our Sydney metro homes to continue booking in for Social Visits through our 10-4 Wellbeing video calls and window/courtyard visits to stay connected with loved ones during this time.

It is highly recommended that visitors familiarise themselves with the Department of Health’s COVID-19 education resources.

 

What is an ‘Essential’ Visit?

Essential visits are defined as those required to be conducted for residents:

  • Undergoing end of life care
  • Experiencing extreme emotional and/or mental stress
  • Who have a clearly established pattern of involvement from a visitor in providing their care and support as an essential part of their care plan

 

Conditions of Entry

All nominated representatives will be required to:

  • Report to reception and complete and pass the health screening assessment
  • Undertake a temperature check
  • Provide evidence of having received a 2020 Influenza Vaccination
  • Proceed directly to the resident’s room or designated meeting area in the Home
  • Not come into contact with other residents, staff or family members
  • Maintain 1.5m physical distancing rules at all times
  • Practice hand hygiene upon entry to the Home and before entering and leaving a resident’s room
  • Follow respiratory hygiene practices
  • Only visit during visitor hours Monday to Friday – 10:00am-6.00pm (last entry at 4:00pm)
  • Limit visits to ideally no more than 30 minutes with a maximum of 2 hours

 

We ask that you monitor your own health status over this critical time and if you feel even mildly unwell, please do not come into the Home, even if the visit is considered essential.

We also ask for your cooperation in adhering to the ‘essential’ visit definition above and not put pressure on the staff in our Homes for a social face to face visit at this time, but rather use the options that are in place: window and social distance face to face courtyard visits, phone calls and 10-4 Well-being check in Zoom calls.

In addition, we strongly encourage families to wear a face mask during the visit.

 

Process for arranging a visit

It is important that we are able to safely support and manage essential visits in our Homes. To help us make everyone’s visit as safe and enjoyable as possible, there are few things visitors should organise in advance, including:

  • Familiarising yourself with the Pre-visit checklist
  • Calling the home in advance to book your visit during the published visiting hours

Our priority remains the safety and protection of all residents and staff in our Homes, by working cooperatively, we will be able to move forward together.

Visits can only be sustained with everyone’s cooperation and commitment to our processes and conditions of entry.

We look forward to progressively welcoming families back into our Homes and ask for your patience and understanding as we work to implement the new access policies to support safe visits.

 

COVIDSafe App

The government has released its COVIDSafe app. The aim of the App is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by enabling a more efficient and timely way of finding close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app assists health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

By downloading the app you can protect yourself, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians. The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the safer we will all be.

Download the App

Apple iOS App Store or Android

 

_______________________________ 

 

5 May 2020

This week sees the reintroduction of controlled Essential Visits to most Allity Homes. We take this opportunity to welcome families back and thank you for your understanding and cooperation with the entry conditions and processes. By working together, we will be able to continue providing a safe environment for our residents and staff.

Due to elevated local risk factors, our Sydney Metro Homes remain closed to visitors, except for those visiting on compassionate grounds. We are monitoring and assessing risks on a daily basis, taking into consideration community risk factors, the state government’s decisions on progressive relaxing of restrictions and specifics in the aged care environment.

In the meantime, we encourage families to continue to book in for Social Visits with loved ones through our window and courtyard visits or Zoom calls.

We will update you as the level of risk changes and look forward to reintroducing Essential Visits to these homes too in the near future.

We highly recommended that all Social and Essential Visitors familiarise themselves with the Department of Health’s COVID-19 education resources as well as our Pre-visit Check list for Essential Visits.

 

COVID-19 Residential Care Visitor Access Code

Last Friday, the government announced that a voluntary ‘visitor access code’ is soon to be released.

The objective of the Code is to facilitate safe and regular communication between residents and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to apply a compassionate and consistent visitor policy that continues to minimise the risk of COVID-19 while providing innovative on-site visiting solutions to maintain the mental health of residents.

It provides principles around how residential aged care providers should create solutions to facilitate connections between families and residents. These include in-room Essential Visits for compassionate and care support reasons, safe Social Visits such as video calls, window and courtyard visits, and when visits should not be permitted.

The draft Code has been provided for public consultation by consumer advocacy organisations and aged care provider peak bodies. It is envisaged the Code will be finalised by Monday 11 May. Allity has had the opportunity to review the draft and supports the principles on which it is based.

 

Aged Care Royal Commission

With COVID-19 dominating the focus of the aged care sector, consumers and the government, the Royal Commission into Aged Care (RC) has also had to adapt, with all workshops and public hearings postponed since February.

Given the magnitude of the issue, the RC is now calling for submissions from the general public and organisations relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the aged care sector. Aged care recipients, families, supporters, providers and staff are all encouraged to respond.

Allity supports the work of the RC and we believe it is vital that the Commissioners remain well informed and receive balanced constructive submissions upon which to assess the impact of COVID-19 and how the sector has responded.

We take this opportunity to thank everyone for your responses to our Family survey. We have received over 1,350 submissions with an overwhelming majority of respondents happy with the regularity of communication and confident that Allity is doing the right things to protect your loved ones from the potential spread of Coronavirus.

Your responses have provided important insights that have helped us to adapt, assess risk and make decisions during a difficult time. You have also given our staff encouragement as well as offered us constructive feedback (both positive and negative) on how we have handled this health emergency.

We would like to encourage as many of you as possible to participate in the Royal Commission’s call out for submissions. Directly hearing about your experience will greatly benefit the objectivity and outcomes of the RC. You can find out how to make a submission here.

 

Mother’s Day Sunday 10 May

A gentle reminder to ensure you drop off your Care Packages early in the lead up to Mother’s Day. If you wish to send flowers, please take into account the type of flowers and how they are packaged to maintain their freshness and ease of delivery by staff.

We also envisage our Social Visitor video calls, window and courtyard visits will be in high demand, and therefore, ask families to prepare in advance by booking in for face-to-face window and courtyard visits with as much notice as possible.

Our Dining and Lifestyle teams have been working hard developing ideas to make this day the best it can be for all of our families, and in particular to make this a special day for all the mums out there who have inspired and influenced us to be our best selves….wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Allity.

 

COVIDSafe App

Download the app so you can protect yourself, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians. The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the safer we will all be.

Download the App

Apple iOS App Store or Android

 

____________________________________


30 April 2020

We take this opportunity to thank everyone who submitted a response to our COVID-19 Family Survey. Within 24 hours of publishing the newsletter we received over 650 responses with an overwhelming 95% of respondents confident that Allity is doing the right things to protect your loved ones from the potential spread of Coronavirus.

Rest assured that protecting your loved one remains our priority and we promise to keep you informed of what we’re doing every step of the way.

As communicated in previous newsletters, we made a commitment to inform you of any change to the current visitor access policy by 1 May. We also noted that risk assessments may result in varied approaches to visitor access between our Homes or across regions.

Irrespective of any changes to visitor policies, all aged care access restrictions remain in place as they relate to overseas travel, influenza vaccination, feeling unwell or having had close contact with anyone confirmed with COVID-19.

It is highly recommended that visitors familiarise themselves with the Department of Health’s COVID-19 education resources.
We would now like to provide you with the details of changes to Allity’s visitor access policy, which will take effect from 10:00am Tuesday 5 May.

 

Revisions to Visitor Access Policy

Allity’s visitor policy has always sought to balance the physical and emotional health of our residents and staff.

As part of our risk assessment, we have continued to look at COVID-19 trends within the community, federal and state government guidance, aged care industry advice and the overseas aged care experience.

 

Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Regional NSW

In line with the reduced risk of community infection in these regions, from 10.00am Tuesday 5 May essential visits by residents’ nominated representatives will be reintroduced for all Allity Homes in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. Regional NSW Homes – Coastal Waters, Gosling Creek, Calare, Bayside NSW and Riverwood will also move to the new visitor access policy.

The restricted visits will be essential in nature and will be subject to strict criteria and conditions of entry (see below for details). This is line with AHPPC advice and our own risk assessment.

 

Sydney Metro Area

The COVID-19 cluster in Western Sydney continues to escalate and for that reason, Homes in the Sydney metropolitan area will remain closed to all visitors, except for those visiting on compassionate grounds. 

Current access restrictions will remain unchanged due to the ongoing crisis at Newmarch Aged Care in the west of Sydney and the sixth successive day of increases in community cases of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor and assess these risks on a daily basis, taking into consideration community risk factors, the state government’s decisions on progressive relaxing of restrictions and specifics in the aged care environment.

We will update you as the level of risk changes and hope to be able to permit essential visits to these homes too in the near future.

We encourage all families in our Sydney metro homes to continue booking in for our 10-4 Wellbeing video calls and window/courtyard visits to stay connected with loved ones during this time.

 

Essential Visits – Definition and Process

The decision to amend visitor policy has not been made lightly and acknowledges that a significant proportion of our families have requested that we continue with our current policy.

The processes and controls considered in making the decision to relax visitor access policies have been stringently considered in terms of their effectiveness in supporting our Homes’ ability to continue maintaining safe and COVID-19 free environments.

 

What is an ‘Essential’ Visit?

Essential visits are defined as those required to be conducted for residents:

  • Undergoing end of life care
  • Experiencing extreme emotional and/or mental stress
  • Who have a clearly established pattern of involvement from a visitor in providing their care and support as an essential part of their care plan

 

Conditions of Entry

All nominated representatives will be required to:

  1. Report to reception and complete and pass the health screening assessment
  2. Undertake a temperature check
  3. Provide evidence of having received a 2020 Influenza Vaccination
  4. Proceed directly to the resident’s room or designated meeting area in the Home
  5. Not come into contact with other residents, staff or family members
  6. Maintain 1.5m physical distancing rules at all times
  7. Practice hand hygiene upon entry to the Home and before entering and leaving a resident’s room
  8. Follow respiratory hygiene practices
  9. Only visit during visitor hours Monday to Friday – 10:00am-6.00pm (last entry at 4:00pm)
  10. Limit visits to ideally no more than 30 minutes with a maximum of 2 hours

We ask that you monitor your own health status over this critical time and if you feel even mildly unwell, please do not come into the Home, even if the visit is considered essential.

We also ask for your cooperation in adhering to the ‘essential’ visit definition above and not put pressure on the staff in our Homes for a room face to face visit at this time, but rather use the options that are in place: window and social distance face to face courtyard visits, phone calls and 10-4 Well-being check in Zoom calls.

In addition, we strongly encourage families to wear a face mask during the visit.

 

Process for arranging a visit

It is important that we are able to safely support and manage essential visits in our Homes. To help us make everyone’s visit as safe and enjoyable as possible, there are few things visitors should organise in advance, including:

  • Familiarising yourself with the Pre-visit checklist;
  • Calling the home in advance to book your visit during the published visiting hours

We believe the time is right to reintroduce progressive but tightly controlled visitor access policies that balance the wellbeing of residents with minimising the potential impact of COVID-19. We must remain cautious and as such reserve the right to change our visitor policy at any time.

Our priority remains the safety and protection of all residents and staff in our Homes, by working cooperatively, we will be able to move forward together.

Visits can only be sustained with everyone’s cooperation and commitment to our processes and conditions of entry.

We look forward to progressively welcoming families back into our Homes and ask for your patience and understanding as we work to implement the new access policies to support safe visits.

 

Family COVID-19 Survey

Your feedback is important to us.

Simply select and click on the Home location below that pertains to you and complete a 2 minute questionnaire, we also encourage you to provide us with any additional feedback.

If you would like someone to follow up with you, please don’t forget to provide your name and contact details. The survey will be open until Tuesday 5 May.

 

New South Wales:

Bass Hill    |   Bayside   |    Beechwood    |    Brentwood 

Calare    |    Coastal Waters    |    Gosling Creek   |    Greenwood

Pemulwuy    |     Pendle Hill    |    Redleaf Manor    |    Rosemore    |    Riverwood    |    Willandra
.....................................................

Queensland:

Keperra Sanctuary    |    Sylvan Woods    |    Villa Serena
.....................................................

Victoria:

Avonlea    |    Bayside    |    Camberwell Green    | Claremont Terrace

Glendale    |    Greenview    |    Highwood Court

Lexington Gardens    |    Lilydale    |    Medina Manor    |    Montclaire

Princeton View    |    Riddell Gardens    |   Tannoch Brae    |    Templestowe Manor    |    Trevi Court

.....................................................

South Australia:

Carinya    |    Charles Young    |    Hillside    |    Holly

Little Para    |    Marten    |    Ridgehaven    |    Ross Robertson

Smithfield    |    Somerton    |    Walkerville

 

COVIDSafe App

This week the government released its COVIDSafe app. The aim of the App is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by enabling a more efficient and timely way of finding close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app assists health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

By downloading the app you can protect yourself, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians. The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the safer we will all be.

Download the App

Apple iOS App Store or Android

 

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28 April 2020

Picking up from our previous newsletter, we aim to release details of a revised Visitor Policy on 1 May.

We believe this is the right time to do so, in light of positive trends continuing within the community, each state government’s decisions to progressively relax restrictions, all the while still keeping a close eye on the risk in the aged care environment. The risk assessment may result in varied approaches to visitor access between our Homes or across regions.

As mentioned last week, in combination with advice from health authorities and international trends, your feedback plays an important part in our decision-making, particularly in relation to visitor access policies that support maintaining safe and COVID-19 free Homes.

We would now like to invite you to participate in Allity’s Family COVID-19 Pulse Survey. The aim of this survey is to gain an understanding of the level of confidence you have in the approach we have taken in protecting your loved ones, as well as the quality of care that we are providing in the COVID-19 environment.

How to participate:

Simply select and click on the Home location above (30 April Update) that pertains to you and complete a 2 minute questionnaire, we also encourage you to provide us with any additional feedback.

If you would like someone to follow up with you, please don’t forget to provide your name and contact details. The survey will be open until Tuesday 5 May.

 

Mother’s Day: Sunday 10 May

With Mother’s Day coming up, we would like to remind you to book your Care Package drop off taking into account the 48 hour quarantine period. We ask for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard in the lead up to make sure all care packages received are appropriately quarantined and cleaned before they are given to your loved ones.

We envisage our video calls, window and courtyard visits will be in high demand, and therefore, we ask families to prepare in advance by booking in for face-to-face window and courtyard visits with as much notice as possible.

 

Influenza Vaccination Reminder: 1 May

With only days to go, our visitors and volunteers will have received a reminder letter that anyone wishing to enter any aged care premises (subject to access restrictions) must have proof that they have had the influenza vaccination.

This applies to staff, visitors, health practitioners, volunteers and others (for example, cleaners, tradesman, gardeners, and maintenance staff) Ref: Australian Government Department of Health FAQs

We recommend that everyone actively request a certificate once you have had the vaccination.

 

COVIDSafe App

This week the government released its COVIDSafe app. The aim of the App is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by enabling a more efficient and timely way of finding close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app assists health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

By downloading the app you can protect yourself, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians. The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the more effective it will be.

Download the App

Apple iOS App Store or Android

 

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24 April 2020

There has been a lot of discussion this week about visitor access restrictions to aged care homes, in particular stemming from comments made by the Prime Minister.

We have received many emails, phone calls and responses to our most recent E-newsletter expressing your feelings about the precautionary measures that we have in place at Allity to protect the health of all our residents and staff. A large majority of these responses have requested Allity keep current access policies in place. We are extremely grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response from you regarding our approach.

We do however acknowledge that some families do not share this sentiment. We ask for your understanding as we progressively navigate the path towards visitor access in a controlled way when it is safe to do so.

Allity’s number one priority is to avoid a clinical care crisis that some providers in Australia are now undergoing as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak. We also take lessons from the horrors being experienced overseas in aged care facilities.

Nevertheless, Allity will always take a compassionate approach to visits as we currently do for any of our residents in end of life care.

We also encourage all families to stay connected with loved ones by continuing to book in for face-to-face window and courtyard visits, our 10-4 Wellbeing video calls and staying in touch with the activities happening in the Home through each Home’s weekly update.

 

Roadmap for Visitor Policy Changes

Our aim is to work together with residents and families to implement a process that enables safe visits that minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection to an acceptably low level.

Each day, Allity’s COVID-19 Taskforce reviews updates from the Department of Health; advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Committee, your feedback as well as trends across international aged care sectors.

In addition, daily resident wellbeing check-ins are conducted across Allity Homes. The combination of all these resources contribute to our daily assessment of the risks associated with relaxing precautionary measures.

Whilst being conscious that it will be some time before the community can return to a COVID-19 free environment, we appreciate that the level of risk is thankfully reducing in most parts of Australia.

We are currently working on a roadmap to enable safe visits that will initially factor in:

  • Screening processes on entry;
  • Proof of influenza vaccination in line with Government directives;
  • Scheduling of visits with nominated representatives;
  • Hygiene and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protocols to control levels of exposure for residents and staff;
  • Visitors understanding COVID-19 education resources made available and advocated by the Department of Health

We are aiming to release details of our revised Visitor Policy on 1st May.

 

Anzac Day – 25th April

With this important day of Observance coming up on the weekend, many public ceremonies for 2020 will have been cancelled but does not take away from the significance of the day that we should all privately commemorate.

The service at the Australian War Memorial will be nationally broadcast, to enable everyone to watch from our own homes. There will also be a range of other commemorative activities that will be broadcast throughout the day which our Homes will be scheduling for residents.

Read PM Message

We take this opportunity to acknowledge our service men and women, and remember the bravery, sacrifice and contribution they have made in serving our country – Lest we forget.


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21 April 2020

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak Allity has taken the actions it deems necessary to protect the health and safety of our residents. We have been entrusted with the care of 3,500 of the most vulnerable people in our communities. It is a privilege and a duty that we take with the utmost seriousness.

On the 23rd March we took the decision to restrict all visits to our homes with the exception of end of life situations. This was in addition to implementing a range of other measures to protect our residents. Having seen the devastation that COVID-19 has caused in nursing homes throughout Europe and the US we felt compelled to act. It is a measure of the success of these policies that Allity has thankfully not recorded any cases of COVID-19 in any of our homes.

Implementing these measures has enabled our residents to continue to live as normal a life as possible within our homes. They are able to move freely around and enjoy the use of common areas and outdoor spaces subject to standard 1.5m physical distancing requirements. The only residents who are required to remain in their rooms are those who have recently admitted to the home or those who develop flu like symptoms – in line with standard healthcare regulations.

Our Lifestyle Services Coordinators and their teams have been adapting traditional activities and programs so that residents can maintain their social connections, and enjoy the activities they are used to, albeit in a slightly different way. This includes introducing technology to enable regular connections between residents and their loved ones.

You may have seen Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments today about aged care facilities. Specifically he suggested aged care providers should be permitting regular visits. This is something we all want to see happen but we do not believe it is yet the right time.
With increasing COVID-19 infections in aged care homes in Australia, we feel we need to continue to act with an abundance of caution in relation to visitor access.

Just today a new case was confirmed in a retirement home in Sydney where one of the resident’s family members is a confirmed case.

Simply put, it is too late to put restrictions in place after an outbreak impacts a home. We believe the precautionary measures we have in place today are in the best interests of the health and safety of our residents and staff at this time.

As the Prime Minister said, “We are on the road back and we want to stay on the road back. And to do that we have got to move carefully.”

Allity will continue to regularly review and re-evaluate our visitor policy in line with community risk. Hopefully, community COVID-19 cases will continue to fall, and we will be able to progressively relax some of the precautionary measures as and when it is safe to do so.

Until then, we appreciate your patience and support as we continue to work hard to keep our community safe.

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17 April 2020

This week brings reassurance that there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported in any Allity Homes or affecting any of our staff. We continue to remain vigilant in our adherence and commitment to actions and practices that matter most in keeping our residents and staff safe.

Hear from Glen Hurley, Allity Chief Operations Officer as he sums up the events of the last few weeks and the importance of not being complacent.

Glen Hurley Allity COO