Christmas is just days away and the festivities will kick into the New Year as we welcome in 2023, so it’s important for aged care workers and their clients to stay connected, healthy and happy over the holidays.
Peak bodies have encouraged people to reach out to family and friends over this period, especially those living in aged care, as 40% of residents don’t receive any visitors every year.
As we live through Australia’s fourth COVID-19 wave and facilities fight to keep the virus away from aged care facilities, residents are still entitled to at least one essential visitor at all times to help curb the negative impacts of loneliness and isolation.
Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Craig Gear, said after two disrupted Christmases, it is important for all families and friends to reconnect and look after each other – especially with those who have lost loved ones.
“The Visitation Code ensures older people who live in residential aged care have access to an essential visitors – even during COVID outbreaks,” he explained.
“For others who may have lost friends and loved ones, or who struggle with large gatherings, it can be very lonely.
“Small acts of kindness – checking in on a neighbour, having a coffee, seeing if they need something down at the shops – can sometimes be the most effective.”
National Seniors Australia’s Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke, added that while we are entering our first Christmas without COVID-19 restrictions since the start of the pandemic, protective measures such as wearing masks and practicing good hand hygiene can help prevent spreading the virus to older people.
“[Christmas is] a time when everybody gets together and wants to shake hands and hug and kiss each other,” Mr Henschke explained.
“It would be a good thing to do a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) before attending any outing to ensure you haven’t got COVID and won’t pass it to anybody.
“It might make the difference between enjoying yourself at Christmas or being laid up in bed.”
Avoiding “silly” choices this silly season
Popping open some wine or a beer is commonplace at Christmas time but it is important to drink responsibly – especially if you need to drive.
The Department for Health and Aged Care issued its own advice on staying safe while consuming alcohol this Christmas.
Setting a limit and keeping track of your drinks, choosing low or no-alcohol options, and drinking lots of water to rehydrate were a few tips they shared online.
Health officials around the country are also issuing food preparation and food storage advice to prevent illnesses such as gastro or salmonella.
Perishable foods such as chicken, ham, and seafood warm up quicker than normal on hot days, so it is important to make sure these types of foods stay refrigerated until required and that leftovers are returned to the fridge as soon as possible.
Be sure to keep food stored at an appropriate temperature by utilising both the fridge and eskies, wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and do not cross contaminate cooked and uncooked meat and poultry by placing them on the same plates.
The national forecast for Sunday is looking to be a relatively typical Australian summers day, so remember to keep up your water intake, wear protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses, and apply sunscreen throughout the day.
From all of us at HelloCare, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
Let us know how you are celebrating the festive season in the comments below!