Important Information About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

May 5, 2020

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.

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):

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/australian-health-sector-emergency-response-plan-for-novel-coronavirus-covid-19

In response to COVID-19, some of the initiatives we have implemented across our organisation include:

  • 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.
  • General visitor restrictions at all SCC residential care sites as of 18 March 2020.
  • Existing infection control policy, procedures and measures at all residential care facilities confirmed and strengthened.
  • Additional PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has been obtained, including masks, hand gel, gowns, gloves, etc.
  • 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.
  • Infection control / hand hygiene / COVID-19 training has been completed by all staff
  • SCC has engaged a cleaning contractor to conduct High Touch Point (HTP) cleaning across our residential facilities (in addition to current cleaning routines).
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Gatherings at SCC villages (such as church, BBQs) have ceased, along with non-essential visits/movements between sites.
  • Video calling via skype has now been implemented at every residential care facility, allowing residents to remain connected to family while visitor restrictions are in place.
  • 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.

General Visitor Restrictions

The no visitor policy that was adopted at all of our residential care sites on 18 March 2020 is being lifted in a controlled and measured way. Due to the reduced community risk of COVID-19 infection transmission in the metropolitan area, and the mandated directions of the National Cabinet, from 6 May 2020, visitor restrictions will be implemented to align with the ‘Visitor Restrictions for Aged Care Facility Guidelines’ at all Perth based facilities.

The no visitor policy currently remains in place for our regional sites located in Broome and Kalgoorlie.  This is due to the ongoing active COVID-19 cases in these regional areas. Exceptions to this no visitor policy will be primarily on compassionate grounds, so we encourage our regional families to please contact their local facility to discuss any concerns they may have.

From the 6 May 2020, the following visiting arrangements will be in place at all SCC metropolitan 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 will be permitted in SCC metropolitan residential care facilities, but 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 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.
  • Have not been caring for anyone with a respiratory illness.
  • Are aged 16 years or older (exemptions will be assessed on a case by case basis on compassionate grounds as needed).
  • Agree to confirm in writing they meet the requirements above.

To ensure we are able to undertake the necessary screening process, visiting will be by appointment only, and between the hours of 10am-4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.  Visits will also be restricted to two people, and limited to a maximum duration of two hours.

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.

Video Calling with Residents

During these times of uncertainty and as we continue to limit visiting in all of our residential care sites, we understand it is important that our residents remain connected with family and significant others. To help that connection, SCC has implemented an initiative whereby family and friends can schedule assisted video calling, via Skype with residents.

If you wish to participate, and are not already doing so, please download the free Skype app and register for an account. Once you have done this, please contact the relevant Site Manager with your Skype username and preferred contact times so we may help your loved one schedule a video call with you.

Cessation of non-essential services

The following non-essential services have been ceased at all SCC sites:

  • Non-essential contractors. Any essential contractors entering the facility must be screened as per the visitor requirements above.
  • Non-essential volunteer services.
  • Non-essential visits by SCC staff / central office staff / service providers.

Residential care admissions

Urgent admissions at our residential care sites will continue, however, restrictions are in place.  SCC has special requirements around the screening, and if necessary, COVID-19 testing of any new admissions from hospitals. These restrictions have been put in place to protect all current residents and minimise the risk of COVID-19 being introduced to any of our residential facilities.

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:

  • Staff ensuring that they follow infection control and hand hygiene procedures and undertaking additional training as required.
  • Clients being sent letters providing them with information about COVID-19 and asking them to contact Southern Plus if they may be at risk of having the virus.
  • Home care staff to contact clients prior to a visit (where appropriate and determined on a case by case basis) to ask about any possible client exposure to COVID-19.
  • All other organisational-wide measures are being followed.

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:

http://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus-covid-19

Further Information:

Please refer to Department of Health website (link below) for regular aged care-specific updates:

Contact Us:

Residential Care – contact your Facility Manager

Home Care – 9268 6845

All other enquiries – 1300 669 189

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