Oct 29, 2021

Vic government allowing unvaccinated aged care visits to combat elderly isolation

Vic government allowing unvaccinated aged care visits to combat elderly isolation

Earlier this week, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), the peak body for not-for-profit providers, urged the Victorian government to “reconsider” its decision to allow unvaccinated visitors in the state’s aged care homes.

Currently, Victoria is the only state that is yet to mandate vaccinations for aged care visitors, with all other states requiring visitors to be fully vaccinated for at least 14 days before their arrival at a facility.

Despite exceptionally high vaccination rates for aged care residents and staff across the country, ACSA chief executive Paul Sadler believes that the vulnerability of the aged care population should dictate a more stringent visitation policy in Victoria. 

“Aged care homes are the frontline of the pandemic,” ACSA chief executive Paul Sadler told The Guardian

“This is our most vulnerable group of people. Everyone who visits aged care should bring the protection of a vaccine with them.”

Balancing safety and freedom

Uncompromising COVID protocols have put an enormous strain on the health and wellbeing of aged care residents over the last 18 months. 

This fact was highlighted recently when a Victorian aged care resident – who had been isolated in his room for 25 days – pleaded with Minister for Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck for some changes to harsh aged care restrictions. 

In a recent interview with The Guardian, a Victorian government spokesperson said that the decision to forgo mandating vaccination for aged care visitors is an attempt to balance the risks of COVID transmission with the harm of social isolation. 

The spokesperson also revealed that these rules were continually being reviewed and may be subject to change, and that the intention is that unvaccinated visitors only have access to their loved one’s rooms and outside areas – not common indoor areas within the home. 

Although COVID restrictions have eased today as the state reaches the 80% vaccination mark, visits to aged care homes in Victoria remain subject to restriction.

Reasons for visiting an aged care home in Victoria are: 

  • providing care 
  • visiting a resident under 18 years of age
  • visitor is a nominated mental health support person
  • visitor is a nominated person for a resident with dementia
  • visitor is an interpreter
  • visitor is working, or 
  • visitor is there for end-of-life support of a loved one. 

A vaccination exemption also exists in NSW which does allow two unvaccinated people to attend an “end-of-life visit” for a resident.

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  1. It has become increasingly clear, when looking at other countries, that being vaccinated you can still contract Covid-19 and pass it on to others. In Israel last month 60% of patients hospitalized with severe covid symptoms were doubly vaccinated. It is not nearly as effective as we are led to believe. Handhygiene and good infection control measures are the most effective way of controlling spread of any infection, including Covid-19.
    To me, this is a great, common sense approach, well done Victoria.

  2. The safe way forward is to only allow vaccinated visitors.
    We put gauze on the windows to keep dirty blowflies outside…vaccine is the new gauze!

    Who in their right mind would risk their frail old relative in a nursing home by knowingly enter unvaccinated? Ludicrous!

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