22nd April 2020
Re: Prime Minister’s Press Conference 21st April with respect to Aged Care
Dear Family and Friends,
I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the comments of the Prime Minister at yesterday’s press conference. I am sure that most of you know that our decisions to this point have been made with your loved one’s best care in mind and that the measures implemented have been aimed at keeping our residents safe. I would hope that you would all be confident that at no time have we “locked away” anyone in our facilities as we certainly have not done this. Indeed by keeping our facilities COVID-19 free we have been able to do the opposite.
Our focus during this last 5 weeks has been to ensure the safety of residents whilst also investigating and implementing ways for them to remain connected to their families and friends. As you would be aware from my previous communications we have implemented video conferencing at no charge, we are agreeing to personal visits on compassionate grounds, we continue to provide visits “through the glass” where possible and we are at present seeking to expand this initiative further at all sites.
Personally I want to affirm the amazing work that our industry and in particular this organisation has done to prevent COVID-19 reaching our residents. The actions we have taken were always about protecting our residents from this virus because they are the most vulnerable people in our society. Indeed I believe it is because of the efforts of this industry to put our residents safety and wellbeing first that we have succeeded where other countries’ aged care systems have failed.
Typically our response to this virus has been ahead of and in addition to what is being recommended by the Government and this is because we have an obligation as an aged care provider to individually assess the risks to our residents and do what we can to mitigate these risks. We are not doing this because it is easier or cheaper, indeed the actions we have put in place and the measures we are taking are both time intensive and costly and for this we have received woefully inadequate additional financial support from the Federal Government (1.3% increase).
I know that there are some who have highlighted the fact that it has been staff that have infected residents at other facilities and not visitors. “They” claim that this is why visitors should be allowed to have access to aged care homes. Allowing staff and visitors access will increase the chances that our residents may be exposed to the virus despite our ongoing screening of everyone prior their entrance to our site.
Knowing that you are all very keen to recommence visiting your loved one I also want to share with you some key information that I hope will assist you in understanding how we are moving forward and when we will seek to resume in-person visits to our sites over and above the measures mentioned above.
At present each week my team and I are reviewing the active and new cases within the areas that we operate. Unfortunately given the limited detailed information available this is only able to be considered on a regional basis as defined by the Queensland Government ( we are seeking more detailed information to improve our decision making). To give you an understanding the attached Table 1 represents the information available from the Queensland Government on the 13th and the 21st of April.
I have highlighted the applicable regions for our organisation and for your benefit the relationships are as follows:
Central Queensland – Capricorn Adventist Retirement Village (Yeppoon)
Gold Coast – Melody Park Adventist Retirement Resort (Nerang)
Metro South – Victoria Point Adventist Retirement Village (Victoria Point)
Sunshine Coast – Caloundra Adventist Retirement Village (Little Mountain)
As part of our assessment of risk we are taking the view that once we have 14 days of no new cases in a region in which our facility operates we will begin winding back the current restrictions that are in place. Updates on these assessments will be provided on a weekly basis moving forward to keep you up to date.
This would mean, for example, that should there be no new cases reported again next week in the Central Queensland region our Capricorn Adventist Retirement facility will commence these rollbacks. The initial phase of rollbacks will include allowing visitors into our facility in line with the current directives as issued by the Chief Health Officer of Queensland https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under- expanded-public-health-act-powers/aged-care.
Please note however that if there were new cases reported after we begin rolling back our restrictions there is every likelihood that we would consider reinstating the restrictions that are currently in place until it was confirmed that the outbreak was under control and no new infections were occurring.
I cannot reinforce enough that this is about the safety and wellbeing of our residents.
It is for this reason we will also be consulting with our residents over the next week or so to hear from them what measures help them feel safe and what risks they are willing to accept as part of any future roll back. Their responses will play an important part in how we continue to respond to these unprecedented times.
We will continue to monitor and respond as circumstances change with a view to ensuring that our response is always measured and appropriate to the circumstances. The team and I are mindful of the impact these measures are having and we certainly want to see life return to normal as fast and as safely as possible.
As I indicated in my first letter if the greatest criticism of our organisation is that we went too far in trying to protect our residents then I am happy to wear that criticism because that simply means that we were successful and people have little else to be critical of.
As you read this letter and as you discuss it with those close to you I encourage you to keep in focus that we are all doing this for them, not us. They are the ones most at risk and they are the ones that will pay the ultimate price if we fail to keep them safe. I am sure that like me you also would believe that this is reason enough to do what we must.
Our teams need your support now more than ever. They are operating in particularly difficult circumstances with a number of them putting our residents before their own families by self- isolating to ensure that there is no opportunity for them to become the reason this virus reaches our residents.
All of us are making sacrifices, we are all attempting to abide by the rules of self-isolation to avoid the spread of this virus, it makes no sense that we would make Aged Care the exception to this.
Thank you to all of you for your understanding and support. The team and I have appreciated the many positive messages we have received. Please know that we like you cannot wait to be able to go back to life as normal.
Eric Anderson CEO