WITH clients who are at most serious risk from the spread of COVID-19, Jewish residential aged care providers in Sydney and Melbourne have erred on the side of caution to date by prohibiting visitors to all except clients in palliative care.
But limited visits under strict provisions will now be permitted at some sites following reviews.
The Australian government, in consultation with the sector, released a draft Visitor Access Code on May 2, which directs residential aged care providers to ‘actively facilitate’ visits from up to two family members or friends, with scope to find their own solutions to achieve that.
The code states that as a minimum, entry requirements for visitors must include honestly responding to screening questions, showing proof of having had a flu vaccination, use of hand sanitiser, and following what each facility asks in order to keep residents and staff safe.
The week before, Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised aged care providers that barred any visits from loved ones, saying, “That’s not okay.”
In Melbourne this week, Emmy Monash Aged Care confirmed it will reintroduce face-to-face visitor bookings from May 11 in two designated areas on weekdays, subject to strict conditions.
For the first fortnight, bookings will only be made for 15-minute visits by one visitor per resident in designated areas, but then two visitors will be allowed.
In a letter to residents, it said, “We understand these are difficult times for everyone and we have heard your feedback.”
A Jewish Care spokesperson, meanwhile, told The AJN its latest review resulted in a decision, “not taken lightly”, to maintain its no face-to-face visitation policy at its three residential aged care centres.
In Sydney, Montefiore confirmed it has reviewed its visitation policy which had only permitted video calls, and effective from May 4, will enable a pre-booked 20-minute visit by up to two family members per resident on weekdays, subject to strict conditions.
A spokesperson told The AJN these visits will be held “in a designated area, with a protective transparent screen separating the resident from the family members as a safeguard to cross-infection”.
“Understandably we have had some feedback from people distressed by the situation, but the majority has been largely positive and supportive of the measures we are taking.
“We hope to continue to review and expand the [safe visitation] program safely as the situation improves.”
Meanwhile, the government announced an additional $205 million will be provided to the residential aged care sector.