27
March
2020
|
04:15
Australia/Melbourne

Update on COVID-19 preparations in our aged care homes

Summary

We are taking every necessary step to help prevent COVID-19 infection among our aged care homes and are closely following all advice from health authorities. Suzanne Dvorak, Managing Director Bupa Villages and Aged Care Australia, sent a video update to residents' families.​

Suzanne Dvorak, Managing Director, Bupa Villages and Aged Care, Australia

UPDATE Friday 27 March 2020

As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise across Australia, we need to take new measures to prioritise the health and safety of our residents and employees.

We have now made the difficult decision to stop all visits to Bupa aged care homes starting tomorrow, Saturday 28 March.

This is due to the growing risk of COVID-19 infection from people entering our care homes, and recent Government advice to limit movement and interactions in the community.

While we know this is difficult for our residents and their loved ones, we have set up an initiative, Visits by Mail, to help keep residents connected with the community, and will continue to develop new ideas that support their wellbeing. We also encourage our residents’ families to video call their loved ones and have made arrangements at each home to facilitate this.

There will continue to be compassionate exceptions for visits to residents, such as for those who are receiving palliative care. Please contact the care home to discuss this.

We thank everyone for their continued support, patience and understanding during this time, particularly our aged care employees who are committed to caring for our residents and continue to come to work to fulfil this vitally important and essential work.

UPDATE Friday 20 March 2020

New Bupa Aged Care Australia COVID-19 Information Line

From tomorrow (Saturday 21 March), we’re opening up a special hotline for all relatives and friends of our aged care residents with questions about the steps Bupa is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our Australian aged care homes.

Phone number:

1800 780 038.

Opening hours:

  • 9am-9pm Monday to Friday
  • 10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday

Anyone who is looking for information about their own health, or their family’s health, should still contact the Australian Government Central Patient COVID-19 Triage Hotline on 1800 020 080.

Please continue to contact the relevant Bupa care home directly for any questions about a specific resident in that home.

Bupa's contact details for any non-COVID-19 related aged care enquiries, can be found at here.

 

UPDATE Wednesday 18 March 2020

Restricting visits to our care homes

Bupa is very mindful of the need to take every possible step to protect our aged care residents from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

We are introducing new rules to minimise visits to care homes to help protect the safety of our residents and employees.

Effective immediately, we are now introducing limits on all visits. This means:

  • Visits will only take place from 2pm – 5pm each day (including weekends).
  • Visitors will be required to wear gloves and mask (provided by our care home).
  • All visits should be pre-booked by ringing ahead to the care home. See here for contact details for all our care homes. 
  • Visitors will be greeted on entry by a staff member who will help with putting on the gloves and masks. They will also explain how to safely wear the protection equipment.
  • A limit of one visitor per resident per day, for a maximum of 30 minutes. This is to ensure effective use of protective masks.
  • Visits must take place within the resident’s room, not in communal areas.
  • All visitors should limit interactions with other residents and maintain a safe social distance of 1.5 metres.
  • Children and young people (under 18 years) will not be able to visit. The reason is that children may carry a range of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, while showing no or minimal symptoms.
  • Introducing temperature checks for people entering our care homes, to ensure people with a fever do not enter.

These measures are in addition to the previous requirements for visiting our care homes.

We’re asking everyone to consider whether their visit is essential and postpone it if possible. Minimising the number of visitors is the best way to reduce the risk of infection.

There will be compassionate exceptions for visits to residents, such as for those who are receiving palliative care. Please contact the care home to discuss this.

We understand these restrictions will be difficult for some, and we will help to arrange phone or video calls for residents to keep in touch with their loved ones.

We’ve also put a call out to our residents’ family members, encouraging them to have their children or grandchildren record video messages for their relatives in our care homes, which can help our residents feel more connected while there is a limit on visitors.

We continue to work with the government health authorities to ensure we are doing everything possible to prevent infections, and preparing for managing an outbreak if it should happen.

Protecting our residents and employees is our highest priority and we all have a role to play in this.

I want to thank all of our residents and their loved ones for their ongoing support and understanding during these difficult times.

You can read more about Bupa’s other business areas on COVID-19 preparation and links to the latest government information here.

UPDATE: Friday 13 March 2020 

As the residents we care for are often more vulnerable and susceptible to infections, we have strong existing outbreak prevention measures already in place at our homes, and our teams are experienced in managing infection control.

We are further strengthening these existing controls across all of our homes with new sign in processes, proper hygiene reminders and are ensuring all our employees participate in infection control refresher training.

We have also introduced precautionary measures such as making sure we have enough essential equipment available if needed.

Visitors to our care homes

All visitors to Bupa care homes must now complete a Health Declaration Form before they can enter our care homes. All visitors must use hand sanitiser upon entry to our homes.

We’ve changed the access codes to our homes and introduced a new sign-in procedure to ensure any visitors with risk-factors for COVID-19 or who have flu-like symptoms stay home until cleared.

In line with instructions from government health authorities, visitors and employees won’t be able to come into our care homes if they:

- Have had contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19

- Have travelled overseas in the last 14 days

- Are feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat

The health and safety of our residents and employees is our absolute priority. Our visitors also have a role to play in this, so we ask anyone planning on attending our homes to err on the side of caution when planning a visit.

Flu vaccinations

Another way to protect our residents is to ensure as many employees and visitors as possible have a flu vaccine before winter. While the flu vaccine won’t protect you from COVID-19, it is important for preventing flu outbreaks and protecting the overall health of our homes.

We will continue to keep our employees, contractors and visitors informed around any updates relating to COVID-19 and reminding them of preventative measures to minimise infection related risks.

If you have any questions or concerns about visiting your loved ones at one of our care homes please contact the home directly. Details can be found here.