Important Information About Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Welcome to the Southern Cross Care WA, Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page. Here you will find information about the COVID-19 pandemic, what we’re doing to help protect the health of our residents, clients, families and staff, and what you need to do as a member of the Southern Cross Care WA community.
This is an extraordinary time of challenge for everyone in our community but especially for care-givers in the aged care community.
We are conscious of the dedication, compassion and professional commitment of our nurses and carers – We want to publicly acknowledge their efforts to ensure your loved ones are always safe and supported.
Our response to COVID-19
The Southern Cross Care WA Board, Executive and Senior Management team are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and have established an Emergency Pandemic Planning Committee and implemented an Action Response Plan based on the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19):
The second-wave of the Coronavirus pandemic is severely impacting the aged care sector in Victoria. It is important to be clear from the outset that the situation in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland is significantly different to Western Australia.
So far, the decision of the State Government to effectively isolate WA from the rest of Australia means the threat of transmission of Coronavirus in the community is significantly diminished.
Nevertheless, we know that older people are more vulnerable to this highly infectious disease, which is why we have strict operating procedures and protocols for all our home care services.
In response to COVID-19, some of the initiatives we have implemented across our organisation include:
- Additional PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has been obtained and provided to sites and staff, including masks, hand gel, gowns, gloves, etc.
- Specialist training for staff to ensure they apply best practices in hand hygiene, infection control and their daily care and duties around each facility or in the delivery of home care services.
- Regular communications being sent to staff, based on the information and updates being provided by the Australian Government and WA Department of Health.
- All staff, contractors and volunteers who have travelled anywhere overseas or interstate recently must inform the organisation and are required to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of return.
- Staff unwell with fever or respiratory symptoms are asked to stay at home and seek medical advice.
- A strict visitor policy has been implemented, including the taking of body temperatures, influenza vaccination records and visitor logbooks.
- Existing infection control policy, procedures and measures at all residential care facilities and with our home care services confirmed and strengthened.
- A specific procedure for managing the care of people diagnosed with COVID-19 has been implemented and training of residential staff has been completed. Home care staff training is in progress.
- A specific procedure for managing the care of people diagnosed with COVID-19 has been implemented and training of residential and home care staff has been completed.
- SCC has revised our High-Level Infectious Cleaning Procedure to ensure environmental cleaning and disinfection is completed using best-practice and with TGA approved chemical disinfectants.
- Ongoing audits and reviews of our practices and procedures to ensure strict compliance, including scenario testing in the event of an outbreak.
- Regular communication has been distributed to residents, families and next of kin of our clients residing in our residential care facilities advising them of SCC’s response to COVID-19 and providing them with information on the virus (and Govt. website).
- Admissions procedures for new residents have been reviewed and updated.
- Letters sent to all Southern Plus home care clients advising them of precautions and asking them to inform Southern Plus if they are at a higher risk of having the virus
- Phone calls have been made to all Southern Plus home care clients to discuss their current situation and to determine if they need additional home care or support services.
- Vulnerable home care clients have been identified and strategies to support and protect them have been identified.
- Regular multidisciplinary team meetings are held to review the care needs of vulnerable home care clients.
- Letters sent to SCC retirement village residents advising them of precautions and SCC’s response.
- When attending events, social distancing is still encouraged where possible.
- Video calling via skype has now been implemented at every residential care facility for residents to utilise if they wish.
- Nurse Practitioner telehealth consultations are available for staff and home care clients.
All of these activities are helping to ensure that our organisation is well prepared to respond to COVID-19, and minimise any impact it may have on our provision of high-quality services to our clients and residents.
Residential Aged Care Visitor Policy
Due to the gradual reduction of COVID-19 risk in the WA community, and following consultation with residents and families, SCC has revised the Visitor Policy for all residential aged care facilities, including regional sites. Visitors are now welcome every day, between the hours of 10am and 4pm, in adherence with the below.
From the 10 June 2020, the following visiting arrangements will be in place at all SCC facilities.
Visitors will NOT be permitted to enter the facility if:
- They are unwell in anyway, including having symptoms of fever or respiratory infection.
- They are not vaccinated against influenza.
All other visitors meeting face to face with residents must meet the following requirements:
- Have no fever or elevated body temperature (a temperature of less than 37.5 degrees Celsius is required. The temperature of all visitors will be taken prior to entering a facility by infrared non-contact digital thermometers.
- Have not returned from any interstate and overseas travel in the past 14 days.
- Have not knowingly been in contact with a person who is suspected or confirmed positive for COVID-19 or influenza.
- Agree to confirm in writing they meet the requirements above.
All visitors must comply with the following requirements:
- Consent to their body temperature being taken by a non-contact infrared thermometer.
- Follow strict hand hygiene practices.
- Visiting times will be daily between the hours of 10am – 4pm.
- Limit visiting to a maximum of two visitors at one time per day.
- Spouses and other close relatives or social supports are not limited in the number of hours whey spend with their spouse or relative. Please discuss with your Facility Manager. Remain in the area designated by the facility for visitations.
- Follow social distancing requirements.
- Follow any instructions from staff during the visit.
Under the direction of the Federal Government, all staff and visitors to aged residential care facilities from the 1 May 2020 must have received the influenza vaccination. From this date, all family members and visitors will be required to provide appropriate evidence that they have been immunised against influenza.
Southern Plus Home Care Services
Southern Plus have also implemented several strategies (in addition to the above) to mitigate the risk associated with COVID-19 when providing home care services to clients. These include:
- Specialist infection control training for staff to ensure they apply best practices in hand hygiene, infection control and essential first aid in line with medical guidelines on safe clinical practices when providing care or any form of onsite support service.
- Appropriate provision of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to all care giving staff delivering home care on an ongoing basis including masks, gloves, hand gel and gowns.
- A specific procedure for managing the care of people diagnosed with COVID-19 has been implemented and training of home care staff has been completed.
- Detailed briefings at shift-handovers to ensure heightened awareness among staff of any clinical risks and symptoms of our clients.
- Tight monitoring of the requirement that all employees who are in care-giving duties have received a flu vaccination, and anyone who is unwell MUST NOT attend work.
- A strictly enforced policy for any employee who has been in direct contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to work.
- The mandatory requirement for any employee returning from overseas or interstate travel to conform with Government requirements to self-isolate for 14 days before being allowed to return to work.
- We continuing to phone all clients prior to home visitation so we can confirm they are not showing any fever or respiratory symptoms.
- Implemented a new care worker alert 24 hours ahead of scheduled services, due to impacts on scheduling appropriately trained staff to attend care services.
- All other organisational-wide measures are being followed.
Retirement Living Communities
- Southern Cross Care thanks residents in retirement living villages for exercising social distancing and respecting the temporary closure of Community Centres.
- Community Centres at each village are now back open, however social distancing is still encouraged.
COVID-19 Response Team
- Southern Plus has put in place a dedicated team to support clients should they be displaying concerning symptoms or are confirmed to be infected. This ensures all our clients can continue to receive the services they need. This team is dedicated to supporting these clients exclusively, which means the risk of cross-infection to other patients is extremely low if not eliminated.
How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19
To help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect those who are most at risk, it is important that you take the recommended steps from the Department of Health to protect yourself and others.
- Good hygiene – includes washing your hands, covering your coughs and cleaning your home and workplace.
- Social distancing – practise social distancing in public, at home and in public.
- Self-isolation – means staying at home for 14 days. Understand who must self-isolate and how to self isolate.
- Public gatherings – understand the limits that apply to essential gatherings and non-essential gatherings.
- Face masks – if you have COVID-19 or a similar type of respiratory infection, wearing a face mask can help to prevent spreading it to others. If you are well, you do not need to wear a face mask. There is little evidence that widespread use of face masks in healthy people prevents transmission in public.
- Consider downloading the COVIDSafe app to assist in rapid contact tracing if you have unwittingly been exposed to the coronavirus.
For more information, please visit:
Please refer to Department of Health website (link below) for regular aged care-specific updates:
- The Western Australia Department of Health website also provides regular updates on State cases and local resources: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus
Need to talk to someone independently?
- The Older Person’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) has a range of resources available to support you and your loved ones through this pandemic. Some important information on hygiene practices we are all being encouraged to adopt to limit the spread of the virus in the community is provided in the attached flyer.
- In addition, OPAN has a range of informative videos from Dr Norman Swan that are linked to this email for you to view. I hope they provide some information and context for some of the decisions we have made.
Residential Care – contact your Facility Manager
Home Care – 1300 000 161