Jan 15, 2021

Visitor allegedly flouted nursing home rules, potentially putting lives at risk

 

A family member has ignored an aged care home’s visitor restrictions, failing to disclose they had been in a COVID-19 hotspot and sneaking in even after being banned, putting the lives of both staff and residents at risk, according to a member of staff who reached out to HelloCare.

The visitor was seeing their centenarian parent, and allegedly failed to tell staff they had recently been in a COVID-19 hotspot. 

The person also allegedly made excuses to avoid having to wear a mask and have their temperature taken. They refused a swab test and supplied a false phone number, according to our source.

Though banned from the home after this incident, days later they are said to have forced their way back in and caused an uproar, declining to leave and threatening legal action.

Staff at the home in question, like aged care staff all over Australia, and indeed the world, have made constant sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect not only their own health but also the health and lives of residents. They have taken every possible measure to maintain hygiene and infection control. 

So it’s not surprising the incident caused significant distress, igniting fears the residents’ lives may have been put at risk if they were to catch COVID-19.

COVID-19 visiting restrictions are difficult for everyone, residents, staff and families alike. Yet the very large majority – almost all – accept the changes because they know they are essential to saving lives. We have all read about, or even experienced first hand, the horrors when COVID-19 gets into aged care homes. 

Leading Aged Services Australia CEO, Sean Rooney, told HelloCare, “The overwhelming majority of visitors are complying with the rules and understand that keeping coronavirus out of aged care homes is paramount.”

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson PSM, echoed those sentiments. She told HelloCare, “In the vast majority of instances, visitors have demonstrated a willingness to comply with a state order if the provider is interpreting that order fairly, with care and compassion.”

It appears that this alleged incident represents the very small number who refuse to make personal sacrifices, thinking only of themselves and not of the greater good. 

When all else fails, called police

Anderson said when aged care management has done all it can to explain visitor restrictions and requirements, but visitors still won’t comply, they can report the incident to their local police.  

“It would be hoped that this action could be avoided through further engagement between the provider and the visitor,” she added.

Aged care providers have a responsibility to communicate with residents and families about the restrictions and why they are necessary, Anderson explained.  

The “access restrictions” recommended by state and federal governments are vital to protect residents and staff in aged care homes and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and aged care homes are expected to “comply” with the restrictions, Anderson said.

Protecting older Australians must be top priority

Visitors who lie to aged care management to avoid COVID-19 restrictions can also be reported to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Rooney said.

“Protecting older Australians is the top priority. Aged care homes must minimise the risk of people from hot spot areas,” he said.

“They should report cases of falsehoods by visitors to their health authorities and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.”

HelloCare has directed our concerned reader to take Rooney’s advice.

Where to go for more advice?

Resources to help consumers and their families understand what to expect and how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s website.  

Specific information about visitor restrictions can be found here

Anyone with concerns about an aged care service can make a complaint to the Commission through its website or by calling 1800 951 822 (free call).

Image: Juanmonino, iStock.

 

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  1. All residential contracts we issue at our facility have a clause stating that if visitors or guests of residents cause continual problems or significant problems their agreement may be terminated without notice & they will have to find somewhere else to live. In this case we would warn the next of kin (the first time this occurred) of the situation & tell them to get their family into line & the second time we would immediately terminate the agreement & move her to hospital until her family could find her another facility.

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