© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
After a two-week public consultation process with consumers and aged care providers, the aged care sector today released its 'Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes During COVID-19'.
It delivers a long-awaited agreed approach to residential aged care homes receiving visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Code's overriding theme is one of human rights. The wishes and preferences of the aged care residents must be at the centre of all decision-making on visitors. This is in keeping with Australia's aged care practice of person-centred care.
However, the Code also points out that providing aged care residents with vital social connection and support and protecting them from COVID-19 remains a balancing act: "Residential care homes, residents and visitors need to work together to find the right balance".
Aged Care Visitor Code: Key Points for Visitors
- If the aged care resident would like to see you, you can visit. Visitation is not limited to family members. The only test is whether the resident wishes to see you. If the resident is unable to make that decision, then the resident's power of attorney or close family members may do so on their behalf.
- Contact the residential aged care home well before your visit to understand visitor processes and whether they have a visitor booking system in place. Most homes have booking systems to allow staff to clean between visits.
- Visits may be between 30 minutes to two hours. Longer visits beyond two hours may be allowed in certain circumstances, namely where: the resident is dying; there is an established and regular pattern of the visitor providing care and support to the resident; and the visitor has travelled an extensive distance to visit the resident.
- You must comply with the home's infection prevention and control measures. The minimum entry requirements will include: - Responding honestly to screening questions about your current potential exposure to COVID-19 and confirming that you have had an up to date flu vaccination. You may need actual proof (note from your GP, clinic or Pharmacist) of having the flu vaccination. - Complying with mandatory hand hygiene, being temperature checked upon arrival, wearing Personal Protective Equipment (if required), attending to physical distancing requirements, and remaining in a resident’s room or designated visiting area.
- Visits may take place in a resident’s room, designated internal areas, gardens or other designated areas. Where in-room or in-person visits cannot occur, and the visit is meaningful for residents (e.g. for residents living with dementia or sensory loss), a window visit may be offered, or technology utilised. Window visits may occur in a dedicated space behind a protective screen, via a balcony, through a gate or behind a window. Where window visits are not effective for the resident, the residential aged care home will explore alternate approaches.
- You may use the full range of visitor options available at the residential aged care home, be it in-person or with technology. The goal is to give residents greater opportunities to remain in contact with families and friends.
- If the aged care home does not allow your visit, the Code provides a complaint process. It begins with speaking with the residential aged care home's manager. If that discussion proves unsatisfactory, call Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 700 600 or visit https://opan.com.au or the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822 or visit https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/making-complaint.
The Code is welcomed as it sets agreed expectations of aged care residents, their visitors, and aged care residential homes in the uncertain environment of COVID-19.
If you seek advice on the care for your loved one, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion. We specialise in making sure you have the right care, support and assistance for your loved one at the right time and in the right place.