Sep 23, 2021

Visitors to aged care homes may still need to social distance and wear PPE

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, has provided Australians with their first indication of what Australia’s plan to allow visitors back into aged care homes may look like.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Colbeck told reporters that he wants to see a firm plan put in place “as soon as possible”, which mimics the government’s gradual re-opening strategy once 70 and 80% vaccination targets are met.

“There will be circumstances, as they always have been, when access is restricted … but we’re dealing with something new, and we need to design the processes to deal with it,” said Mr Colbeck.

Hugs will be a welcome relief for aged care residents, many of which have spent the bulk of the last 18 months without the ability to meet with family members.

However, any notion of aged care visits going back to how they were before the pandemic were quashed, despite statistics that show 90% of residents are fully vaccinated and 98.8% of aged care staff have already had their first dose.

Mr Colbeck expects that mask-wearing will still be required for visitors in aged care, along with rapid antigen testing to pre-screen visitors. Social distancing inside nursing homes is also a measure that is being discussed.

“You’ve got vaccination, but you also still have screening and then you have physical measures to prevent the virus being spread – PPE, testing, those sorts of things that can help to mitigate it as well.”

Aged care looby groups and industry stalwarts have also been in discussion with the government regarding the aged care visitation plan.

Aged Care Services Australia (ACSA), Interim CEO, Paul Sadler, revealed that ACSA is currently working alongside both provider and consumer peak bodies to revise the current visitation code that was created in response to the pandemic.

“We now need to sit down with the consumer groups and discuss how can we lift restrictions in a sensible way, that doesn’t put people at additional risk, but that actually gets back to the human rights of older people to see their families, engage with friends, go out into the community,” said Mr Sadler.

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  1. Interesting to see that very little planning has taken place in the lead up to a “living with Covid” life. Our vulnerable elderly deserve to be put front and centre not left behind like they were with vaccinations. They are hanging out to see their loved ones and they deserve this planning to have been top priority.

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