Caring for our residents in a COVID-normal world
With COVID-19 expected to remain a threat in Australia for some time, Bupa has released a new framework for care homes operating in a ‘COVID-normal’ environment.
Maryann Curry, Director Clinical Services, Bupa Aged Care Australia
While Australia is currently in a much better position than many others when it comes to COVID-19 infection rates, we are acutely aware that the threat remains and could strike at any time.
With many of our aged care residents being particularly vulnerable to the virus, our priority is to look after their health, safety and wellbeing.
Throughout the year, as we have learned more about this virus, we have adapted our COVID-planning to ensure we have a clear framework that does everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents and employees.
We have now implemented our COVID Safe Plan, which has been developed by our clinical experts and provides a clear blueprint to guide our care homes through this period.
Alongside our COVID Safe Plan, we’re also aware of the importance in maintaining our focus on supporting residents’ mental wellbeing. That’s why we have increased our focus on wellbeing programs and lifestyle activities within our homes, as well as finding new ways to connect residents with their loved ones via video calls and our private Facebook groups.
When community transmission rates of COVID-19 increase so does the risk of exposure to our residents and our teams. The COVID Safe Plan covers four phases for individual care homes based on their risk level:
- COVID-normal: COVID-19 transmission rates are low within the community, and there are no known infections linked to a care home.
- Increased infection prevention and control measures, with visitors and workers welcome into our homes following strict visitation and health protocols.
- There may be exceptions to individual care homes in this phase where the risk of community transmission is higher.
- Precautionary monitoring: Someone who has attended the home has had exposure to a potential case of COVID-19 (a close contact).
- Visitation paused, increased infection control measures and residents’ health monitored regularly for any signs of infection.
- Outbreak: A positive COVID-19 case has been confirmed within the home. This could be a resident, employee or visitor.
- Work closely with the relevant government departments to contain the spread of infection within the home.
- This includes regular testing and clinical monitoring, increased use of Personal Protective Equipment, cohorting of employees and residents, and deep cleans of the home.
- Enhanced surveillance: Once an outbreak has been cleared within a home, in line with the relevant Public Health Unit.
- Stricter infection control measures are gradually reduced in line with government advice as the home moves back towards COVID-normal. Additional monitoring of residents’ health remains.
More detail on the COVID-Safe Plan, and the current status of each of our care homes, can be found at www.bupaagedcare.com.au/covidsafeplan.