Covid-19 media release 14/08/2020
TO: RCH RESIDENTS AND FAMILY MEMBERS
FROM: CEO – Graham Reed
DATE: 14th August 2020
Yesterday, the Premier, The Hon Stephen Marshall MP, announced that South Australia will be implementing several new residential aged care home protocols to come into effect on August 27. These protocols include enforcing a one site policy for personal care workers, as well as ensuring that appropriate personal protective equipment (predominantly face masks) is worn by staff providing nursing, medical, allied health or personal care who come within 1.5 meters of a resident.
These changes have been formalised in the latest Emergency Management Direction 2020 for Residential Aged Care Homes (you can access this via the link below) and are based on the premise that almost every outbreak of COVID-19 in residential care homes across Australia has started through an infected staff member coming to work.
Along with these two new protocols, staff working in aged care homes will also be required to undertake a higher level of training in infection control, with a team from the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital currently developing a training package for this purpose.
LHI’s Pandemic Response Team met yesterday to plan for the implementation of these changes and will continue to meet in the weeks ahead. Whilst we fully support these measures to safeguard residents, the team has highlighted that the blanket wearing of masks for all staff may frighten or concern some residents. With this in mind, our lifestyle teams will be spending additional time reassuring residents as we transition to this change. At this stage, it is not a requirement for visitors to wear masks however, the requirements to be screened before each visit, practice good hand hygiene and maintain social distancing continue to apply.
In relation to the supply of masks for staff, we had purchased masks in preparation for a possible outbreak, however we will need to ensure we are able to maintain an adequate supply of masks in order to comply with this new directive.
We are also actively working with staff to determine whether they work in other aged care homes and we are also working with our preferred Agency staff provider YNA to allocate preferred staff to our sites. Both sites currently have a robust casual bank of personal care workers so we are in a good position with regards to any potential shortfall in staffing.
Today’s media conference with the Prime Minister, The Hon Scott Morrison MP made reference to the continuing dire situation that exists in a number of Victorian residential aged care homes where there are now a total of 1,929 active cases of COVID-19 across 125 aged care homes. It was encouraging to hear the PM explain that the real reason we have seen such extensive outbreaks of coronavirus in residential aged care homes in Victoria links directly to widespread community transmission of the virus in that state, not the failings of aged care homes.
I can only imagine how challenging it must be for everyone; residents, family members, staff and volunteers in Victoria trying to cope with the consequences of these outbreaks.
This increases our resolve to ensure we do everything we can to keep the virus out of the LHI community.
We continue to be very thankful that there have been no COVID19 outbreaks in residential aged care homes in SA and trust that the new measures announced by the State Government this week will further safeguard our community.
Thank you sincerely to residents and families for your continued support as we navigate this challenging season.