27th July 2020

Re: COVID-19 Update and Family and Friends

Dear Family and Friends,

Firstly, my apologies for the length of time since my last update. Whilst it has been a few weeks since you received my last update there have not been significant changes to the landscape we are operating in. Also, at present the situation in Queensland remains very positive with the only active cases being those that have arrived back from overseas and being people that have been placed immediately into quarantine on their arrival. That said we are conscious of and are monitoring the situation as it is developing in Victoria and New South Wales.

As we see what is occurring to our south, we have been working on what our strategies will be should COVID-19 continue to move north. Our management team met last week and discussed what our strategies would be, and we agreed to take the following actions:

  • Consult with our residents to ascertain if they agree with our strategies
  • Notify family and friends of the strategies so that they are aware of what they are and when they would be implemented.

Some consultation with residents has already occurred and there are more meetings set for the near future. To date the response from residents has been overwhelming supportive both in terms of our response in the past and the proposed strategies for the future.

For your information our strategies are as follows:

  • To consult with our staff who work at our sites and other aged care facilities nearby to see if we can agree a way forward where they work only at our facility. This would address the issue of transfer of COVID-19 from one facility to another as has occurred in Victoria.
  • Where community transmission of COVID-19 is confirmed in the local government area we operate, or in one adjacent, we will close our facility to all non-essential persons until we are confident that the situation has been brought back under control. We would obviously continue to consider individual circumstances such as where a resident was palliative and family wish to visit with them as we have in the past.
  • Continuing to maintain existing strategies such as holding at least one month’s supply of Personal Protective Equipment at all sites, screening all visitors, and conducting a comprehensive clean of rooms after visits.

I am sure you would appreciate that the COVID-19 situation continues to develop on a daily basis and so whilst we have a strategy as to how we will respond to it we are also conscious that we must be flexible and adjust should the circumstances warrant it.

Given the threat of a second wave it is a good time for me to remind everyone of how important it is for people who are unwell not to visit an aged care facility. Indeed, recently we had a situation where a person with the flu visited a site and infected not only the person they were visiting but also other residents and several of our staff.

Whilst we are thankful that this was not a COVID-19 infection and that the results were not life threatening it does remind us just how easily one person can impact so many others. The ramifications are not simply that people’s lives are put at risk, but it also potentially reduces our ability to deliver care to residents if we are unable to have enough staff on site providing those services.

Given this I would again remind everyone if you are not well even it if is extremely mild please do not enter into one of our facilities as what is mild for you may be life threatening for our residents or may keep our staff from being able to work.

Over the last week we have been installing our new check-in system that will assist us in speeding up the check-in process. Whilst initially the new system may take a little time to learn and get used to it will provide us with a much better way to enable people to have a contactless check-in process. One of the benefits of the new system is that it includes a contactless temperature checking device that once approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration will be used to measure and record a person’s temperature on arrival

For those of you that have a smart phone we would encourage you to download the Sine Pro app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. When you arrive at site you will be able to simply scan the QR code from within the Sine Pro app and then check-in on your device. This will enable you to check-in and check out via your device rather than having to wait to use one of the tablets at our reception areas.

It is a requirement for us to be able to track anyone that has visited one of our sites and as such please remember that you must book with our site at least 24 hours prior to your arrival if you wish to visit someone at our site. Ideally to avoid disappointment I would recommend you book as early as you are able as we have limited availability each day for visitors.

There have been some minor changes to the Queensland Governments Aged Care Direction however the core requirement for persons to have had an influenza vaccination or to be medically unable to do so has not changed. if you would like to review the latest direction you can find it here: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under-expanded-public-health-act-powers/aged-care

The Aged Care Direction remains in force until the 17th of August unless it is once again extended by virtue of the declared public health emergency also being extended. Given the current situation in the southern states it seems an extension is the most likely outcome.

One of the greatest threats to the COVID-19 free position we enjoy at present is that of complacency. We must ensure that we continue to follow the simple but effective strategies such as social distancing, personal hygiene and remaining isolated if feeling unwell. These steps are particularly important where you are likely to be meeting people at higher risk of adverse outcomes should they be infected by COVID-19.

Thank you for playing your part in keeping our residents safe and well and for your ongoing support of our organisation and the team.

Yours sincerely,

Eric Anderson