Infection prevention and control is central to mitigating the risk of COVID-19 and at Estia Health this is guided by the latest expert advice.
Training in infection prevention and control is mandatory for our employees. In February this year, we further modified our infection prevention and control protocols across all our homes in line with the growing understanding of how COVID-19 is spread.
We know it is also an important part of our response to COVID-19 to provide safe and meaningful opportunities for our residents to connect with their families and friends.
When visiting our homes over the past three months, you would notice the changes we have made in response to COVID-19 including: entrance points being monitored to ensure employees and visitors are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and potential COVID-19 exposure before entering; use of protective equipment; and modifying visiting to our homes depending on rates of COVID-19 transmission in the community.
We have strong supply chains for personal protective equipment – items including masks, gloves, face shields and gowns. We constantly monitor stock levels and usage and have supplies available to meet anticipated future requirements.
We are continuously monitoring each of our homes and the communities around them and take additional measures to protect our residents and employees as the need arises.
Since March we have offered all Estia Health employees paid quarantine leave, to ensure no employee has to come to work if they have symptoms or have had potential contact with COVID-19.
We also require our employees to follow the recommendations and guidelines issued by the various State Governments for the reporting of potential exposure to COVID-19, while waiting for a COVID-19 test result, or displaying any COVID-19 symptoms.
The Older Person’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) has a range of resources available to support residents and their families through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Elder Rights Advocacy (PDF) flyer includes useful information about resident and family rights and support available to them.
As soon as we become aware of a positive COVID-19 test result for a resident or employee, the home immediately implements the Positive Test Response Plan.
The Plan includes:
We also notify the health authorities of positive tests, and they then guide us on the procedure for all residents and employees in the home to undergo testing. As soon as test results are returned, we inform residents, their families and our employees of the outcome, for both positive and negative results.
We work closely with the Public Health Units in each state as well as the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, who provide guidelines and directions including, the process for ongoing regular testing and transferring residents to hospital on a case-by-case basis.
We also add extra resources and support so that families are individually updated about their loved ones, including the families of those residents transferred to hospital. Families can also access a dedicated support phone line for the home.
We host regular group ‘virtual’ meetings with families to update them of the overall situation in the home and answer their questions. The opportunity for video calls is available as we understand the challenges that arise in not being able to personally visit loved ones at this time.
A COVID-19 outbreak in a home presents unprecedented challenges for residents, their families and our employees. We provide a free and confidential counselling service to assist with support during this difficult time.