30
June
2020
|
08:32
Australia/Melbourne

Update on COVID-19 preparations in our aged care homes

Summary

With COVID-19 cases and Government restrictions varying across each Australian state and territory, Bupa’s care homes will now have localised visitor arrangements, starting today, Tuesday 30 June.

UPDATE Tuesday 30 June

We’re happy to be able to ease some of our visitor restrictions in our care homes across Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, NSW and ACT. Details are outlined below, but for more detailed questions, please check in directly with the care home.

In our Queensland, South Australia and Tasmanian care homes:

Residents can have two visitors for up to an hour each day. This is still limited to one visit per day, so both visitors will need to come together. Visits are open from 11.30am to 1.00pm, and from 2.30pm to 5.30pm daily.

  • Children can visit residents at our care homes. The adult supervising will need to make sure children wear masks and maintain physical distancing at all times. As with any visitor, children entering our care homes will need to have proof of an up-to-date flu vaccination.
  • Residents are allowed to go on social day trips with families. Friends and family taking their loved ones out for the day will need to fill in a visitor register before they leave the care home. Residents will need to wear masks during the outing and will be placed under close monitoring for 14 days on return to the home. They will need to maintain physical distancing where possible but won’t be required to isolate.
  • Entertainers and Volunteers are welcomed back in our homes. We’re happy to welcome back entertainers, volunteers, mental health support companionship and other external service providers into our care homes.

The same health and safety precautions will be in place for all visitors – health declarations, temperature checks, hand washing on entry, checking flu vaccination status, and wearing a mask while in the home.

In our NSW care homes:

NSW visitor arrangements are the same as listed above for Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, however we have also received advice from the NSW Chief Health Officer that anyone who has visited Melbourne will be unable to enter our care homes for 14 days.

In our ACT care homes:

Residents in our ACT care homes are now allowed to go on social day trips with the same precautions as listed above for Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.

We’re also pleased to welcome back entertainers and volunteers, however at this stage, children under the age of 16 are still not permitted into our ACT care homes.

In some regional Victorian care homes:

Our homes at Eastwood, Echuca, Mildura, Portland, Traralgon and Wodonga have not had any changes to visitor requirements since the announcement made on Wednesday 17 June. Full details can be found below under that date below.

Residents can have two visitors for up to an hour each day. This is still limited to one visit per day, so both visitors will need to come together. Visits are open from 11.30am to 1.00pm, and from 2.30pm to 5.30pm daily.

The Victorian government has advised of higher risk areas for COVID-19 transmission, including the Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Hume and Moreland areas. If you live or work in one of these areas, particularly the ten postcodes as outlined by the Victorian government today, we ask that you avoid visiting any of our care homes at this time, if possible.

In all other Victorian care homes, visitor arrangements remain as per the update below on Friday 26 June:

Note this list of care homes has been extended to include six additional care homes. This now includes Ballarat, Berwick, Bonbeach, Eastwood, Edithvale, Caulfield, Clayton, Croydon, Donvale, Templestowe, Windsor, Bendigo, Kyneton, Woodend, Coburg, Greensborough, South Morang, Thomastown, Sunshine, Bellarine Lakes and Barrabool.

Visiting hours in these Victorian homes have been reduced to 11:30am - 2:30pm daily, with visits limited to one visitor per day for 30 minutes. 

We know this has been a challenging time for everyone and we appreciate the ongoing support and patience from our residents’ loved ones.

We are continuing to monitor the situation and Government advice closely and provide any localised updates directly to our residents and their families.

UPDATE Friday 26 June

Due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the Victorian Government has called out high risk areas with significant local transmission rates.

The hotspots include the Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Hume, and Moreland local council areas.

We are asking anyone who lives or works in these areas to limit or stop visits to our care homes for the time being, if possible.

To help protect the health and safety of our residents and employees while there is an increase in cases in Victoria, from tomorrow, Saturday 27 June, Bupa care homes in the Melbourne metro area will have reduced visiting hours, and visits will be limited to one visitor per day, for 30 minutes.

Visits will be open from 11:30am to 2:30pm daily.

The care homes are located in Berwick, Bonbeach, Edithvale, Caulfield, Clayton, Croydon, Donvale, Templestowe, Windsor, Coburg, Greensborough, South Morang, Thomastown and Sunshine.

The same health and safety precautions are in place – a health declaration, temperature checks, hand washing on entry, confirming flu vaccination status, social distancing and wearing a mask while in the home.

While our regional Victorian care homes remain on the existing visitor restrictions as outlined below, we are continuing to monitor the situation closely and will be in contact with residents and relatives about any further changes that may be needed.

UPDATE Friday 19 June

We are currently reviewing the Queensland, Tasmanian and South Australian Governments' directions around aged care visitation restrictions and considering the impact these guidelines may have on our visitation policy at Bupa care homes.

We will be sure to update our residents and their loved ones about any changes to our current visitor policies soon.

It is important that our aged care visitor restrictions find the right balance between looking after our residents’ and employees’ physical health, while also taking into account the need for residents to see their loved ones.

UPDATE Wednesday 17 June

From today, Wednesday 17 June, residents in our Australian aged care homes will be able to see two visitors at a time for up to an hour each day.

To help manage the number of people coming into our care homes at any given time, visits will still be limited to one session per resident per day and will need to be booked in with the home ahead of time.

This means if two people plan on visiting a resident, they’ll need to come into the home together, not at separate times throughout the day.

The same health and safety precautions will remain in place to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees. This includes a health declaration, temperature checks, hand washing on entry, checking flu vaccination status and wearing a mask while in the home.

Thank you to all the friends and family members with loved ones in our care for their ongoing cooperation, patience and support.

UPDATE Thursday 21 May

We’re extending our visiting hours at all Bupa aged care homes to make it easier for visitors to see their loved ones at a time that suits them.

From Monday 25 May, visits will be open from 11:30am to 1:00pm, and from 2:30pm to 5:30pm daily.

The same health and safety precautions listed below will be in place. This will include completing a health declaration, temperature checks, hand washing on entry, checking flu vaccination status, and wearing a mask while in the home, and one visitor per resident per day.

We are committed to the principles in the new Industry Code for visiting residential aged care homes during COVID-19 and will continue to help our residents see their loved ones while minimising the risk of infection in our homes. 

Thanks to all those who have shown patience and cooperation throughout this challenging time.

UPDATE Friday 24 April

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

From Friday 1 May, we will begin to allow limited visits to our Australian Bupa aged care homes, in line with the timing of the Government’s mandatory flu vaccination rules.

It’s been almost four weeks since we made the difficult decision to close our care homes to visitors, with some compassionate exceptions.

We originally introduced these restrictions based on medical advice that the COVID-19 outbreak may become significant across the community. While it continues to be a serious and challenging situation, we are thankful that the outbreak has been suppressed earlier than anticipated. However, we need to remain vigilant.

We are also encouraged that so far none of our Australian Bupa homes have had infections among residents. While it has been distressing to see some outbreaks in Australian aged care homes more broadly, we are thankful that these haven’t been larger.

Our elderly residents are particularly vulnerable to this deadly virus and their health must always be our number one priority.

While our teams have been facilitating video calls with families and ensuring our residents are getting out of their rooms and socialising with each other, we know that being able to see loved ones is important to their emotional wellbeing. We will continue to balance this consideration alongside the risks associated with exposure to COVID-19.

Friday 1 May is the same date that the Government’s mandatory flu vaccination rules come into effect, meaning only those who are vaccinated will be able to enter our care homes. This is an important step in trying to keep infections out of our home and protect our residents as much as possible.

While we are easing visitor restrictions, safety precautions remain critical in minimising the risk of infection. This means:

  • Visits will be allowed from 11:30am – 2:30pm daily and we’re asking relatives to call ahead.
  • All visitors must wear a mask and practice hand hygiene upon entry.
  • All visitors will have their temperature checked on entry, and anyone with a high temperature will not be permitted to enter.
  • Written evidence of flu vaccination will be required.
  • One visitor will be allowed per day for each resident, for 30 minutes.
  • No children (under 18 years) will be allowed.
  • Social distancing must be maintained (1.5 metres) and visits must take place in resident rooms or outdoors to maintain this – not in communal areas.

Additionally, anyone with flu-like symptoms or anyone who has had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days will not be permitted to enter.

We are cautiously hopeful that we will continue to see a low rate of community transmission of COVID-19 so that we can maintain visits to our homes and further ease restrictions.

We understand some family and friends may choose not to visit in order to protect the health of their loved ones and that some might not be able to make it regularly during visiting hours. So maintaining virtual connections for all our residents will continue to be a focus for our care teams. We’ve introduced a number of new ways to keep in touch including through video calls, a dedicated aged care app, private Facebook groups and by sending in letters and drawings.

Importantly, our South Hobart home will remain closed to visitors in line with the Tasmanian Government restrictions of no visits to aged care homes in Tasmania.

I’d like to thank all those connected to our care homes for their understanding and patience during this difficult time as we continue to care for your loved ones.

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.