The Federal Government announced tough visitor restrictions this week for aged care facilities in response to COVID-19, but BaptistCare lodges has even gone further, declaring a total lockdown at its Griffith and Queanbeyan facilities.
BaptistCare PR and communications manager Marcela Cuevas said the closure of all BaptistCare lodges was a preventative measure following the death of a 90-year-old resident at the Dorothy Henderson Lodge in Sydney on 15 March.
The resident was hospitalised on 1 March with a respiratory illness that was later diagnosed as COVID-19.
Six residents and four employees of the Sydney lodge have since tested positive to coronavirus. Three of the six residents have died.
Ms Cuevas said the organisation was working closely with health authorities, families and team members to keep them informed.
“In these unprecedented and challenging times, BaptistCare has taken precautions to prioritise the safety and health of our residents, families and staff.
“As we already know, older people are especially vulnerable to this virus, and it is vital we take additional measures to protect our residents and staff as the transmission of COVID-19 continues to escalate in the community.
“The Government announced measures to protect aged care centres, which BaptistCare believes is a good starting point, however, we have made the decision to take additional precautions as part of our commitment to keep our residents and loved ones safe,” Ms Cuevas said in a statement.
Aged care facilities run by Goodwin in Canberra and Queanbeyan continue to adopt precautions in line with government recommendations. The same applies at Anglicare aged care facilities in Canberra, Goulburn and Moruya, and at early learning centres in Googong and south-east NSW.
Managing director of Bupa Villages and Aged Care Suzanne Dvorak said visits to their facilities will only be permitted between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm each day. Visitors will be required to wear gloves and a mask.
“We understand these restrictions will be difficult for some, and we will help to arrange phone or video calls for residents to keep in touch with their loved ones,” Ms Dvorak said.
“We’ve also put a call out to our residents’ family members, encouraging them to have their children or grandchildren record video messages for their relatives in our care homes, which can help our residents feel more connected while there is a limit on visitors.”
Ms Cuevas said BaptistCare understood how difficult these measures would be for families and residents who look forward to visits from their loved ones.
“While we do not know exactly what is to come with this pandemic situation, we do know that the safety and health of our residents, staff and the wider community, are our ongoing priority.
“We are assessing this developing situation in an ongoing way, and we will advise residents and families as soon as anything changes,” Ms Cuevas said.
The preventative closure of BaptistCare lodges means they will not be allowing casual and non-essential access, including families, friends and school groups.
Visits from essential services such as GPs and allied health providers will continue as per normal.
Residents are requested to remain in the centres and any resident who needs to leave will be required to isolate in their rooms for seven days.
Recreational and lifestyle programs will continue as long as centres remains free of COVID-19, with social distancing measures in place as further prevention.
Facilities have the discretion to put strict arrangements in place to enable family members to see relatives in end-of-life situations.