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Letter from CEO Regarding Updated NSW Health Advice – Updated 6 November

Advice to Residents & Families – COVID-19 Update

VISITOR RESTRICTIONS

Dear Residents and Families,

NSW Health has updated its advice regarding visiting residents in aged care facilities.

Visitors

Residents are permitted to have two fully vaccinated visitors aged 12 years and over, plus two children aged under 12 years per day.

  • Visitors aged 12 years and over must have received a second dose of a COVID vaccination at least 14 days prior to their visit.
  • Children under 12 years are permitted to visit provided they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated person
  • Where visits include a child under 12 it is strongly recommended, where possible:
    • the visit is in an outdoor area
    • the child should wear a mask
    • the child should have Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) just before the visit
  • Visits should not be in any inside communal areas. All visitors must wear a surgical mask while visiting indoors. For reasons when masks can be removed please see Additional Advice – Mandatory mask wearing.
  • People who are providing a service to the resident (including a health or other professional service) are not counted in the number of visitors permitted.

The Minister has signed an exemption to the Public Health (COVID-19 Care Services) Order 2021 to allow more than 2 visitors per day for the purposes of visiting a resident who is at the end of life.

  • The exemption is subject to the condition that the operator of the facility takes reasonable steps to ensure:
    • no more than 4 people (including children) visit at any one time
    • all visitors 12 years and over wear a mask while in an indoor area, unless the visitor is interacting with the resident they are visiting
    • there is minimal interaction between the visitors and the staff and other residents
  • The visitors in this circumstance do not need to be vaccinated, however appropriate care must be taken if unvaccinated visitors are entering the facility. It is strongly recommended:
    • the visit is solely inside the resident’s room and
    • where possible, the visitors have Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) just before the visit.

Visitors must not enter an RACF at all if they:

  • have COVID-19 symptoms
  • are a close or casual contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 unless they have completed their self-isolation and testing requirements.
  • are waiting for a COVID-19 test result.
  • have been overseas in the previous 14 days, unless they are:
    • fully vaccinated and have received a negative test 7 days or later after arrival in NSW.
    • a fully vaccinated international flight crew member and have a negative PCR test within 24 hours of arrival in NSW or a negative RAT taken on the same day prior to entry.

Residents

Residents are permitted to leave the facility and attend family gatherings or for other reasons but must abide by the current Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order 2021.

Facilities must ensure that residents are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment, infection control and mask wearing advice if they leave the facility. See the latest face mask rules.

If a person cannot wear a face mask because of a disability, physical or mental health illness or condition, they must carry either:

  • a medical certificate or letter signed by a registered health practitioner (such as a doctor) or a registered NDIS provider or
  • a statutory declaration.

Please read Additional Advice – Residents attending family gatherings or excursions.

For further information, please visit the following NSW Health website for regular updates: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/aged-care.aspx

The advice from NSW Health is constantly being updated and I would encourage you to regularly check for updated information.

We will continue to provide opportunities for staying in contact with residents via electronic means (Skype, Zoom etc) and I am aware that many families have taken up this option and residents have reported enjoying these virtual visits. Please contact the facility to book a time for a virtual visit if required.

The Board and Management are aware that this is a difficult time for families and are regularly reviewing policies and practice. I encourage you to use our feedback channels if you wish to comment on any issue.

Once again, the safety & well-being of our residents and staff is our number one priority and your compliance with these requirements will greatly assist us in maintaining a safe environment for all. The engagement and willingness of families & residents to comply with recent changes has been overwhelmingly positive and I would like to once again thank everyone for their understanding and cooperation during these difficult times.

I would once again remind you that the Australian Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission have produced several useful resources outlining what families and residents can expect during a COVID-19 outbreak and I would encourage you to access these resources through the Commission’s website. The link to the site is: https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/consumers/covid-19-consumer-resources#how%20to%20stay%20safe%20from%20covid19

If you have concerns regarding any aspect of our policy regarding these restrictions, please contact the Facility Manager Anna Ross. We will do our best to ensure that you stay connected with your loved ones.

In addition, residents and their families or representatives who need support or have any concerns can contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 700 600 or Senior Rights Service on 1800 424 079.

Yours sincerely,

Justin Dover

Chief Executive Officer