Oct 29, 2021

“Appalling”: Victorian aged care residents still in lockdown despite eased restrictions

Aged care resident in lockdown

On October 1, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee issued a statement saying that all jurisdictions must revise their public health orders to “remove restrictions on visitation to RACF” and to “promote safe visitation”. 

Daily face-to-face visits and trips outside the aged care home must be allowed, they said.

In Victoria, the Department of Health and Human Services allows visitors who can “provide care and support for the resident’s physical and emotional wellbeing”, including support for people living with dementia. 

They allow visiting to “prevent harm to a person’s mental or emotional health due to social isolation”. Two visitors are permitted daily, with no restriction on the length of time they can stay.

However, HelloCare has become aware that in Victorian communities where there are outbreaks of COVID-19, some local health units are instructing providers not only to lock out visitors, but to lock up residents in their rooms – even when there is no virus circulating in the facility.

Ian Yates, Chief Executive Council on the Ageing, said where health orders permit, providers should be admitting visitors. 

“The aged care providers should be opening up in line with the recommendations,” especially when residents, staff and visitors are all double vaccinated, he said.

However, he recognised that in certain circumstances, such as an outbreak, lockdowns are justified.

Providers that lock down for longer than they are required to are in breach of the aged care quality standards, Yates said.

A Sydney aged care resident living with dementia recently believed she was to blame for her family not coming to see her, telling them, “I’ve done something wrong and they won’t tell me what it is, but they won’t let you visit,” according to Yates.

“This stuff is appalling,” he said.

9News is also reporting that families of aged care residents are banned from seeing their loved ones who remain under harsh lockdowns.

One resident was only allowed to see her family through a pane of glass for her 90th birthday celebration on the weekend, 9News reported.

Her granddaughter said even though it was wonderful to see her grandmother, it was terrible the aged care resident was still living under lockdown conditions.

“She can’t see the sun. She’s been on this earth for 90 years, she has been through WWII and this is it. It’s just terrible,” the granddaughter told 9News.

It’s “extremely disappointing” the AHPPC’s national guidelines are applied differently in every state, said Yates.

COTA’s Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes is in the process of being updated. A revised version should be released in “a couple of weeks,” according to Yates.

A statement from Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA), said, “Whilst the relaxation of visiting restrictions recognises the progress made in vaccination in the community, providers remain very alert to the risks that a high number of visitors who may be unvaccinated poses to their residents, particularly when community transmission in Victoria is still high.”

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  1. Alot of shareholders and the big wigs benefit from investing in the elderly. The government gets nothing out of it but more bills subsidizing over 70% in a greedy industry that are raking in millions in yrly profits at the taxpayer’s expense not to mention the elderly who have sold their homes to get in for up to $600,000 and often more and that doesn’t cover everything! If I remember it was before covid and the government was saying what a burden the elderly were on the taxpayer and here they are spending more on preventative measures to protect them from covid or is it to keep these businesses going? Governments don’t want the problem even though they still pay millions a year to the Aged care sector. A rort! Nothing less. But let a non vaccinated resident /visitor mingle with others and staff (who have had to be vaccinated or lose their jobs) who very well may get sick with covid and give to their family or neighborhood is disgusting. What will the media say? A staff member must have been infected? Yep. Not the visitor!

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