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Medical & Aged Care Group’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

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COVID-19 policies

Updated 23rd of July 2020

RE: Message from Cameron McPherson - CEO

Updated 8th of July 2020

To: Residents, Families & Staff

RE: Visitor Access to MACG Aged Care Facilities

During these unprecedented times, Medical & Aged Care continually review and monitor the visitor access to our homes. Whilst we appreciate that not all decisions will be perfect for everyone, our challenge is to balance a serious pandemic with keeping people socially and emotionally connected. Our primary concern currently is to ensure the safety and well-being of all our residents. Our residents remain vulnerable to any potential community transmission of the Coronavirus within our homes.

We note the Victorian Premier’s remarks in his press conference yesterday, and the decision to reintroduce Stage 3 restrictions on those who live in the greater Melbourne Metropolitan area. Clearly defined criteria have been re-established and must be met for any individual leaving their residential address. Our staff are being required to confirm their essential services status when attending shifts at our Homes.

As a result of these changes and to ensure we maximise the safety and protection of all our residents, Medical & Aged Care has made the decision to implement a Resident Protection Zone at their Homes. This means that the current external visiting arrangements will be temporarily suspended. However, these arrangements will be reviewed in four (4) weeks.

This decision again has not been made lightly, and we understand and appreciate the anxiety and anguish which may result from this decision, however, as carers and as part of our duty of care to your loved ones we need to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our residents. To date having these restrictions in place has kept everyone safe.

The past few weeks has seen additional technology and communication systems implemented in our homes to ensure that families and residents can see and communicate with each other. Our lifestyle teams are utilising these tools to connect residents with their loved ones and to maintain their emotional well-being.

We also appreciate in certain circumstances, such as a ‘end of life’, mental health issues etc, individual arrangements will be made to accommodate both family and resident needs.

Judith Knott

General Manager – Residential Aged Care

Updated 1st of July 2020

To: Residents, Families & Staff

RE: Visitor Access to Northern Gardens Aged Care

During these unprecedented times, Medical & Aged Care continually review and monitor the visitor access to our homes. Whilst we appreciate that not all decisions will be perfect for everyone, our challenge is to balance a serious pandemic with keeping people socially and emotionally connected. Our primary concern currently is to ensure the safety and well-being of all our residents. Our residents remain vulnerable to any potential community transmission of the Coronavirus within our homes.

We note the Victorian Premier’s remarks in his press conference yesterday, we also note the concerns raised from a small minority of relatives, however, the safety and protection of all our residents remains our number one priority. Following the lockdown announced yesterday by the Premier of the 36 suburbs in the North and North West of Melbourne, Medical & Aged Care at its Northern Gardens Home has made the decision to implement a Resident Protection Zone. Current external visiting arrangements will be temporarily suspended. However, in line with Victorian Government regulations these arrangements will be reviewed in a fortnight.

This decision again has not been made lightly, and we understand and appreciate the anxiety and anguish which may result from this decision, however, as carers and as part of our duty of care to your loved ones we need to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our residents. To date having these restrictions in place has kept everyone safe.

The past few weeks has seen additional technology and communication systems implemented in our homes to ensure that families and residents can see and communicate with each other. Our lifestyle teams are utilising these tools to connect residents with their loved ones and to maintain their emotional well-being.

We also appreciate in certain circumstances, such as a ‘end of life’, mental health issues etc, individual arrangements will be made to accommodate both family and resident needs.

Judith Knott

General Manager – Residential Aged Care

Updated 1st of July 2020

Flu Vaccination

From the 1st of May 2020, anyone entering a residential aged care facility is required to provide appropriate evidence of flu vaccination. This applies to employees, contractors and all visitors.

Updated 7th of May 2020

Visitor Access Code

Further to the communication sent to you Monday, May 04, we would like to outline the principles, rights and responsibilities which will be put in place from Monday May 11, 2020 relating to the Visitor Access Code for all Aged Care Homes.

Firstly, we would like to note that since MACG took the decision to restrict visitor access to its Homes from Monday April 05, 2020, we have received a 97% satisfaction with our decision to do so over this time. In the interests of our residents’ safety we still believe that the best approach is to continue with lockdown measures, however we respect the wishes of the PM and Cabinet.

Whilst MACG have lifted our lockdown, we still recommend that you continue to communicate with your loved ones via Skype, Zoom etc if this is your preferred method, for these arrangements are still very much in place at all our Homes.

Medical & Aged Care Group have in collaboration with our industry peak bodies spent last week focusing on securing a positive outcome around visitor restrictions. A draft Visitor Access Code has been developed  in collaboration with Government, provider and consumer representatives which was adopted by National Cabinet on late Friday, May 01 2020.

MACG has adopted a cohesive industry approach, as such the Visitor Access code aims to ensure that a compassionate and consistent visitor policy that continues to minimise the risk of COVID-19, while providing innovative on-site visiting solutions to maintain the mental health of residents is in place. We believe the Code is striking the right balance between provider and consumer protections.

The Code outlines principles, responsibilities and rights for the Medical & Aged Care Group and residents, families and friends alike, with the underpinning objective to minimise the risk of COVID-19 being introduced to one of our Homes. This code will take effect as of May 11, 2020.

Principles;

1. MACG and their staff will continue to actively facilitate connections between residents and family, families of choice and friends, consistent with the Charter of Aged Care Rights. Our Home will create a solution for onsite visiting which may be through using a dedicated room, the resident’s room, a visiting window or other solution. 

2. The Aged Care Quality Standards and Charter of Aged Care Rights always apply. 

3. MACG will require that visitors must not visit a Home if they have any cold/flu or other COVID-19 symptoms. Visitors must comply with infection control processes. The entry requirements include being required to respond honestly to screening questions about COVID-19 risk factors, demonstrate an up to date flu vaccination; and complying with visitor requirements which may include hand hygiene, having their temperature checked upon arrival, wearing Personal Protective Equipment if required and remaining in a resident’s room or designated area only. 

4. MACG continues to acknowledge that are certain circumstances in which visitation will require in the room visits (or dedicated areas), which may be for a longer period of time, which may require additional infection control training, and the use of Personal Protective Equipment and other such measures as are necessary to adhere to the facility’s infection control procedures. As arranged previously individual arrangements will made with the manager of the Home and the family under these circumstances and include; Residents who are in the ‘end of life’ phase and in their final weeks will be allowed in-person visits from a small number of loved ones on a regular basis. The number of visitors, length, frequency, and nature of the visits will reflect what is needed for the person to die with dignity and comfort. 

5. MACG will require visitors to remain only for ‘short’ periods, at all homes these times slots are the hours of 0930 to 1130 and from 1430 to 1630 Monday to Friday and will be subject to a booking system to manage total number of visits. The times for these scheduled visits can be booked, Monday to Friday between the hours of 0900 to 1700 hours with either the Lifestyle Team Leader or the Administration Officer at the Home. Visitors attending the Home for these visits will be escorted to a room at the entrance to the Home at the confirmed and nominated time. Social distancing will need to be maintained during these visits.

6. Families and friends can deliver letters / parcels / gifts / food (in line with the Local Government Guidelines) /communication devices to facilities. Where the Home maybe in lock down due to an active infection outbreak in the Home will accept the delivery on behalf of the resident. 

7. If an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs at any MACG home, full lockdown will occur, as occurs for all other infectious diseases’ outbreaks, with continuing attention to all residents’ overall needs. This will be implemented in a transparent and well communicated way, with an indication of likely timeframe and when the lock down will next be reviewed. Where there is an outbreak or infection, residents may need  to be confined to their rooms, as such activities and exercise will continue to ensure the emotional well-being of our residents is addressed.

8. MACG will continue with the practice for residents to use public spaces within the Home, including outdoor spaces, if there is no outbreak. However, social distancing measures such as restricting the number of people in a common area at a given point in time will be maintained. 

9. MACG will continue to ensure a person centred approach to care ensuring that chemical restraint is used only as a last resort in accordance with the Quality Care Principles and in line with individual medication management requirements. 

10. Access of residents to external medical and related services (e.g. repair of hearing aids or glasses) will be maintained, in line with service provider guidelines and requirements. Medical assessment and review processes are in place, with area health services, GP visits and telehealth options as appropriate. This may also require wearing of PPE in certain circumstances. 

11. MACG will continue to facilitate regular electronic communication between residents and families as requested and scheduled. Additionally, regular and responsive communication with families will continue. 

12. MACG reserves the right to vary their own response to COVID-19 if risks change within our local community. 

Rights;

MACG, to mitigate risk of infection will refuse entry to our Home to anyone, for any justifiable reason consistent with this Code. 

MACG, will move into full lockdown when an outbreak has occurred within our Home, or a declared outbreak has occurred within its local area or if there are other extraordinary circumstances that require it. 

Residents, Families and Friends 

• To visit residents, must comply with the entry requirements as above. 

• Will be provided with regular updates and information about what is happening in the Home. 

• Will be provided with additional contact methods such as video conference or telephone calls to supplement any in person visitations. 

• Will deliver gifts, clothing, food and other items for the resident. 

Responsibilities

• MACG will appropriately support staff in order to facilitate, in person visits, by a resident’s family, family of choice or friends. 

• MACG has increased the utility of digital or other communication mechanism to compensate for short visit durations. 

• MACG will ensure that the legal representatives of residents (including Power of Attorneys, Guardians and Health Attorneys) are heard, and their substituted decisions are upheld. 

• MACG will ensure all staff are vaccinated under current requirements. 

Residents, Families and Friends 

• Not to visit when displaying even the mildest cold like symptoms and to always be truthful about their health and contact circumstances when interviewed. 

• To treat all staff with respect and courtesy, following their instructions. 

• Contact the Home before attending for a visit, to secure a mutually convenient time. 

• To follow visiting requirements including providing evidence of up to date influenza vaccination, infection control procedures such as washing hands, use of visiting windows, remaining in residents’ rooms – as directed by the aged care staff.

We appreciate that we are all functioning under challenging circumstances relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, the current arrangements are not ideal for residents, families and staff alike. However in the spirit of cooperation, we seek your patience, understanding and assistance during these times. Please note, these arrangements will continue to be reviewed regularly in line with government directives.


Sincerely

Cameron McPherson

Managing Director – MACG Aged Care


Updated 22nd of April 2020

To: Residents, Families & Staff
RE: Visitor Access to Medical & Aged Care Homes

During these unprecedented times, Medical & Aged Care continually review and monitor the visitor restriction to our homes. Whilst we appreciate that not all decisions will be perfect for everyone, our challenge is to balance a serious pandemic with keeping people socially connected. Our primary concern at this time is to ensure the safety and well-being of all our residents. Our residents remain vulnerable to any potential community transfer of the Coronavirus within our homes. In response  Medical & Aged Care Group remains committed to ensure that the risk of a  catastrophic situation that has recently developed in Aged Care facilities in NSW and Tasmania is minimised.  

We note the PM’s remarks in his press conference yesterday, we also note the concerns raised from a small minority of relatives, however, the safety and protection  of all our residents remains our number one priority. Following consultation with industry organisations, the Aged Care Commissioner and health officials, Medical & Aged Care Homes will continue to restrict visitor access.

This decision again has not been made lightly, and we understand and appreciate the anxiety and anguish which may result with this decision, however, as carers and as part of our duty of care to your loved ones we need to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our residents. To date having these restrictions in place has kept everyone safe.

The past few weeks has seen additional technology and communication systems in place at our homes to ensure that families and residents can see and communicate with each other. Our lifestyle teams are utilising these tools to connect residents with their loved ones and to maintain their emotional well-being.

We also appreciate in certain circumstances, such as a ‘end of life’, mental health issues etc, individual arrangements will be made to accommodate both family and resident needs.

The Managing Director – Aged Care, Cameron McPherson will also be posting a message, further explaining the position of Medical and Aged Care Group. This will be up on all social channels/website in the next few days.

Cameron McPherson, Managing Director – Aged Care

Judith Knott, General Manager – Residential Aged Care

Updated 3rd of April 2020

A special message from our Managing Director, Cameron McPherson

Updated as at 26th March 2020

It is the responsibility of Medical & Aged Care Group (MACG) to identify and comply with relevant legislation and regulations. MACG must fulfil their legal responsibilities in relation to infection control by adopting standard and transmission-based precautions as directed in the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019) and by state/territory public health authorities.

As the number of COVID-19 infections in the community rises, the Government has introduced strict guidelines around social distancing, self-isolation and has stopped mass gatherings.

With the risk of infection between individuals increasing, we have tightened restrictions on visitors to our Homes to preserve the health and wellbeing of our residents and employees.

All homes will be in a form of lockdown. Key pads have been secured, as such visitors will be discouraged from visiting our sites unless it’s essential during this challenging time.

Conditions of entry into our Homes

In line with the information provided by the Australian Government, a decision has been made to place a Condition of Entry for all MACG homes.

  • Visitors will only be allowed entry between the hours of 10am-5 pm Weekdays and 10am-2pm on Weekends (these hours maybe further amended if instructed by the government)
  • Casey Aged Care has been required to reduce visiting hours to 10am-2pm Weekdays and Weekends
  • Visitors are restricted to 2 per resident per day, for a maximum of 1 hour
  • Separate arrangements will be in place for those in " end of life phase" and will be addressed on a case by case basis in consultation with families and the home
  • Children under the age of 16 will be prohibited from visiting the home
  • Families members who have recently returned from overseas will not be permitted entry to the site, until they have completed a 14 day period of isolation and do not show any symptoms of the virus
  • All visitors will also be required to undertake a temperature check prior to entering the building, if an abnormal reading if detected, the individual will be refused entry and will be directed to see their GP immediately
  • Entry will be restricted via the front door only and visitors will be required to report to reception on arrival before entering the Home
  • Visits with residents will be in resident rooms, outdoor areas or designated areas as determined by the home
  • No personal contact with other residents during their visit and abstain from accessing communal areas e.g. lounge and dining rooms
  • Visits from volunteers, schools and community groups have been discontinued
  • Our suppliers have been notified that all deliveries are required to be left outside for collection by staff
  • Individuals refusing to comply with this directive will result with the individual being refused entry to the home
  • From May 1st, access to the home will be prohibited to those individuals who have not been vaccinated for influenza.

Individuals refusing to comply with this directive will result with the individual being refused entry to the home.

All homes will continue regular in-home activities for residents with each Home’s Lifestyle Program.

All staff are required to undertake a temperature check prior to entering the building, they are required to use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the building, and are following strict infection control protocols whilst caring for our residents

All staff are undertaking competencies and attending further mandatory infection control education.

Resident Admissions

We are continuing to accept new permanent and respite residents. Please contact our Admissions Coordinator or the relevant Home for further details.

Weekly notices/updates are being provided to staff, residents and visitors in relation to the virus and how MACG are dealing or managing the situation. Any changes implemented will be based on the information from or at the direction of the above noted authorities.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Residential care homes are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 outbreaks. Even when homes actively try to prevent outbreaks occurring, many external factors may lead to residents or staff contracting the COVID-19 and outbreaks in residential care facilities.

If such an event occurs, strategies will need to be implemented to limit and control the spread of the virus within the home. Visitors, in line with Government directives, WILL NOT be able to access the home, all visiting will be stopped for the period of the outbreak and will not come back online until a clearance has been determined by the appropriate health authorities.

We do ask for your understanding in the coming weeks as we implement any required changes in line with the latest advice from health authorities. We seek your patience, assistance and support at this time as our Managers and staff do their best to maintain the welfare and wellbeing of our residents and each other.

Should you require further information regarding COVID-19, please refer to the Commonwealth Department of Health website: 

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

 

Cameron McPherson

Managing Director

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