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The Elderly Care Industry Believes that it is in a

The Elderly Care Industry Believes that it is in a "Better Position" to Deal with COVID-19 Outbreaks, but Worries Persistsc

Published By Newly

As COVID-19 limitations were lifted this week, families throughout New South Wales were permitted to reconcile with loved ones in elderly care.

Elderly citizens have been separated for months in order to keep themselves safe from the COVID-19 epidemic that has ravaged the state. However, this has left some feeling lonely and depressed.

The Uniting Annesley care facility in Sydney's inner west has 88 inhabitants and specialises in those with mental illnesses.

This week, fully vaccinated adults over the age of 12 were allowed to enter Uniting Annesley under thorough COVID-19 checks and whilst wearing masks and shields. Joseph Khalifeh was among those who came to meet his family friend Gratien Raoul. Their families had known each other in Egypt before going to Australia, and Joseph had been a frequent visitor to the institution until the epidemic made that impossible. When Gratien, 82, saw Joseph enter into the room, he burst out laughing and began singing to honour the occasion.

Despite some initial uncertainty since his face was concealed by a shield and mask when he first encountered Joseph. Even though they had chatted over the phone and video conversations, Joseph said that there was no alternative for face-to-face interaction.

Nancy Cullen, another senior, found a visit from her granddaughter Kimberly Luffman to be overpowering. She admitted to Kimberly that she was experiencing difficulties. Kimberly responded with a hug and the promise of future visits. She also showed a video prepared by her children in which they expressed their love for her. Kimberly was not shocked that her grandma was overwhelmed, and she hoped that her grandmother's spirits would soon lift.

Inconsistent restrictions among providers

Earlier this month, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee issued a statement declaring that visits were critical to reducing the effect of social isolation on the elderly and that all jurisdictions will update public health directives to encourage safe visiting.

The Older Persons Advocacy Network, on the other hand, has received complaints from persons in NSW about onerous limitations on family visits enforced by certain aged care facilities that go beyond public health guidelines.

CEO Craig Gear said that they need similar processes throughout NSW, and I believe that's the problem right now.

They are witnessing individuals and providers that are highly restrictive, restricting the time that people can come in and minimising the amount of time that people may visit. Increasing visits to elderly care institutions in places like Sydney, where the virus is still circulating in the population, will be another major test for a sector that has been under constant strain since the epidemic began.

The elderly care royal commission labelled COVID-19 as the biggest issue aged care has ever faced, and the investigation revealed significant inadequacies in infection control methods at several institutions. Since the epidemic started, more than 750 aged care residents and home care clients have perished throughout the country.

COVID-19, according to infection control specialist Professor Marilyn Cruickshank of the University of Technology Sydney, revealed a lack of experience and preparation in aged care institutions.

Prior to the pandemic, she added that there was little interest in the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control training. However, that had changed.

She said that there’d been a major wake-up call, and the number of workers coming out to be taught illustrates that we've gone from probably teaching 20 or 50 people a year now to over 3,000 just this year. One thing we do have right now that gives me confidence is that we understand the tactics needed [for infection prevention and control]. Whether the facilities themselves have put in the hard yards to achieve that, the evidence, so to speak, will be in the pudding.

However, the elderly care sector is certain that considerable change has happened, reducing the possibility of extensive breakouts. Aged care staff are required to be vaccinated, and 86% are completely vaccinated. It is also required for facilities to have an on-site staff who has been educated in infection prevention and control.

Since August of last year, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has undertaken over 2,900 spot inspections to ensure infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE) regulations are followed. During such assessments, issues such as out-of-date outbreak control strategies and violations involving the usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) were discovered.

Sean Rooney is a spokesman for the Australian Aged Care Collaboration, a trade organisation representing over 1,000 aged care providers. He believes the industry is significantly more equipped. He said that they’d seen personnel continuously getting upskilled and instructed in the use of PPE, as well as having more supplies and access to PPE.

He added that they also have outbreak control strategies in place in each aged care facility that have been updated to reflect all of the lessons learnt.

All of these safeguards put us in a better position to execute what we feel is the national priority, which is keeping residents and workers safe from COVID-19.

When an epidemic strikes, residents "pay the price."

Anthony Bowe is concerned about the rise of visits to nursing homes. His mother, Patricia Shea, resides at Newmarch House in Sydney's west, so it's been a difficult period for him. His mother had COVID-19, and an epidemic there last year killed 19 people. He said that his mother didn't have any respiratory difficulties, which was probably the difference between her survival and death.

Last month, a doctor who had visited the facility tested positive, sparking an emergency reaction that compelled residents to remain in their rooms. He added that the locals are feeling the effects. They pay the price for their error, and this time it cost them weeks trapped in their room.

With society reopening, more visits, it's a perilous period for the elderly.

According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Newmarch House, administered by Anglicare, did not meet quality requirements during the doctor's visit. The commission said they had determined that the service was not satisfying the criteria... especially Standard 3 – Personal and clinical care, and issued a Notice to the service.

This notice imposed several requirements on the authorised provider, including the necessity to designate an advisor for the service; offer staff training, including best practice infection prevention and control.

Following the doctor's visit, no residents or employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The Commission performed an unannounced audit at Newmarch House in January, resulting in issuing a notice for non-compliance with the Aged Care Quality Standards.

Anglicare maintains it keeps residents and their families at Newmarch House regularly informed, which has included increased communication after the doctor's visit. Anglicare said in a statement that they amended and updated its policies and procedures to ensure a best practice approach in responding to the ongoing risk of COVID-19.

Despite his reservations, Anthony Bowe enjoyed taking his mum out of Newmarch House this week so they could catch up over a cup of coffee.



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