Date issued: 4 August 2020

Issued by: The Executive, Heritage Care

Issued to: Residents, Families, Staff, Contractors at all Heritage Care Sites

Purpose: To provide all stakeholders with information about COVID-19 for all our homes.

Updates regarding Epping Gardens are posted daily on the Heritage Care website which you can access should you wish.

We wish to reassure you there have been no positive COVID-19 diagnoses for staff or residents in any other Heritage Care home.

All visits to Victorian-based homes will cease as of today except for end of life. This includes window and garden visits. We have not made this decision lightly and feel that stronger measures to protect our most vulnerable must happen.

The welcomed Stage 4 restrictions and declaration of the State of Disaster in VIC also apply to our residents. Residents leaving the home will only be supported for:

  • Essential healthcare
    Emergency or compassionate grounds such as attendance at a funeral.
  • Zoom, Facetime, Skype etc sessions and telephone calls will still be accommodated.

The State government has advised the purpose of these restrictions is “to reduce the number of people leaving their homes and moving around Victoria”. We will continue to monitor the situation in NSW and advise if these measures will need to be implemented there.

The use of surgical masks and face shields are now mandatory in all aged care homes in Victoria. However, please be assured Heritage Care directed management to implement this process nationally on 1 August 2020. The use of surgical masks and face shields does not replace the need for other precautions, including social distancing and hand hygiene. Residents are the only persons exempt from wearing a mask in our homes, but we will happily provide them to those who wish to wear one.

If we have a suspected or diagnosed positive COVID-19 result, the resident and any other resident who has come into contact with them will be isolated. Staff will be directed to use full personal protective equipment until tests results are received.

Transfer to hospital for further management and treatment is subject to discussion with the treating doctor, resident, and the nominated representative.

Our position remains unchanged, and we will request they transfer to hospital as soon as diagnosed for early intervention and prevention.

Government recommendations are currently to move COVID positive residents into a dedicated area for outbreak management, and ensure staff working in this area are restricted to that location only. This practice is known as ‘cohorting’. We will allocate additional staff as required to manage this process for suspected or confirmed positive cases of COVID 19. Movement of residents for cohorting is a temporary measure and not a breach of security of tenure should this be required in a pandemic situation.

Any symptomatic staff who have been tested for COVID may only return once they have provided evidence of their negative result and have not been asked to isolate by the Department of Health. They must also wait until they have not had a fever for 72 hours, acute symptoms have resolved and they feel better.

We will be bed bathing residents who are COVID-19 positive or suspected COVID-19 as per the guidelines we received from the authorities working with Heritage Care, Epping Gardens. The bathing will be performed in the bathroom or the bed depending on the resident’s wishes and their physical health. A shower is not being offered to these residents as it potentially increases the risk of infection to their carer and possible further transmission of the virus.

We will increased cleaning as per the outbreak management plan where there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID 19. We have sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning resources and are utilising the assistance from the government.

While we appreciate you will all be concerned about your loved one more now than ever, we ask for your support to nominate a contact person on behalf of their loved one who will keep other family members and friends informed of their health and status.

If families wish to take their loved one on social leave or discharge them from the home, we will perform a clinical assessment to determine the requirements of the resident. We have a duty of care to meet our obligations to support the transfer of care to a family member. Please advise if this is your intention to alerts@heritagecare.com.au to discuss further.

Support from Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is also available. You can contact them on Ph: 1800 237 981, 6 am -10 pm, seven days a week or email covid@opan.com.au