Newsletter & COVID-19 Update

It’s April and time for our regular monthly newsletter. Download it here while you read Glenn’s update below…

Dear Residents, consumers, families, friends and staff 

Following our Monday Advice No.6, the situation appears to be now falling into a period of relative calm. There are no new restrictions announced however the NSW Government through the Police Commissioner has indicated that the restrictions that are in place will remain so for a period of 90 days.  I am hopeful that the current strategies will be enough to avoid going into lockdown because, as you appreciate this will place an enormous pressure on residents, relatives and staff.  As you can see by the attached monthly newsletter, we are taking proactive steps to ensure the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of residents is being addressed.  Some key strategies are maintenance of group activities taking into account restrictions on the number of participants, social distancing rules, the maintenance of our onsite physiotherapy service, resumption of Rosa’s hairdressing services, Katja and Janina’s skype/zoom family and spiritual sessions alongside the normal good cheer and interactions from our staff.

Our home care coordinators are now working from home.  This hasn’t changed their access to consumers and I know that they are spending a lot of time contacting consumers to determine their care requirements and to support them during this difficult time.  We also wish to acknowledge the support provided to our staff who are working flexibly to ensure the continuation of our services.  We are maintaining a full service in Administration however will be employing flexible working arrangements where possible.  If you need to contact either Virginia (admin@abeltasman.com.au) or Ishmam (accounts@abeltasman.com.au) you can email to arrange an appointment time.  There will be no interruption to normal services.

Knowing that we are potentially looking at a long period of enforced isolation I feel we are in a good place to manage this as well as having all the required PPE and infection control resources due to good planning from the team.  Now more than ever, we have to ensure we support each other so please take care of yourself and if you are finding it difficult to deal with the restrictions, please contact either myself, Sophia or the RN’s – we will do everything possible to support you.  As always, you can email me at gen.mgr@abeltasman.com.au or call during business hours on 9645 3388.

Glenn Kirkman
General Manager

COVID-19 update # 6

Dear Residents, consumers, families, friends and staff,

Following our Friday update there are two new changes that are impacting the Village.  The first is a recommendation that anyone over the age of 70 or are health compromised do not leave home unless there are exceptional reasons to do so.  Accordingly, we have met with a number of residents today and advised that we are now requesting residents to follow the government recommendation and not to go outside the front gate. 

This has particular relevance to our home care consumers.  Our coordinators are assisting you with information on these changes and how it might affect your services.  As members in the community the ultimate decision is yours and we will assist you with reflecting any changes withing your current service plan.  We do however strongly urge you to follow the guidelines and if it is necessary to get something from outside the home, consider having the care worker do this or alternatively ensure you have appropriate PPE (face mask, gloves) wash hands or use hand sanitiser regularly and maintain the social distance/restriction on having people around you.

I have received a number of enquiries concerning the issue of lockdown – this is currently not a Government direction and is over to providers to implement their strategies in controlling COVID-19.  At this current time we consider our strategies to be working and appropriate for the control of COVID-19.  In summary, we have strengthened PPE, temperature check all staff and residents each day, have implemented social distancing strategies within the dining room and all gatherings, restricted site access to external contractors and deliveries and reduced the visiting hours and duration of visits for residents.

Each of these controls has some effect.  The management team sat in on a webinar that looked at the learnings to be gained from the BaptistCare incident at the Dorothy Henderson Lodge.  As a response we reviewed our current approaches as well as our outbreak controls, and we are satisfied that these are appropriate at this time.  In the event that there is any change we will of course adjust as required.  It is a significant issue to deny residents social contact and restrict their movements in and around the Village.  If any resident or family has a concern we are able to implement an individual strategy to help satisfy their requirements including self isolation in the room where we will deliver all services including meals.  Please contact the Care Manager (Sophia) or the RN on duty if you want to discuss this further.

The Government has also reduced social contact to a maximum of two people.  We are strongly urging residents to avoid all non-essential contact with others and would seek family support in this regard.  Within the workplace, we are now looking to ‘cohorting’ staff.  In essence this will mean that staff will be allocated specific areas to work in over the foreseeable future to minimise cross-contamination.  We are now looking at all non-essential staff working flexibly from home where possible or reducing their hours at work.  To improve the social connection for our residents, Janina and Katja have set up zoom so that families and friends can have real time chats together…Katja will be sending out a notice on this to families.  We also continue to have allied support within the facility – particularly dedicated physiotherapy (they are only working here) which is essential for those residents requiring assistance with mobility and range of motion.

Finally, I wish to provide an update on our flu vaccination program for 2020.  We have received the vaccine for residents and are working with our doctors to write the prescriptions so that these can be administered.  The registered nurses will be contacting residents or their representatives to provide the authority to give the flu vaccinations.  The Government announced that commencing 01 May 2020 all visitors and staff must have a current flu vaccination (i.e within 12 months).  Relatives and visitors are strongly urged to have their vaccinations before the 01 May deadline.  On the staff side, we have advised staff that this requirement is now mandatory and we will be commencing staff vaccination in the next two weeks.

Thanks again for all the messages of support. If there is anything additional that you would like to bring to our attention, feel free to email me – gen.mgr@abeltasman.com.au or call 9645 3388 during normal business hours.

Glenn Kirkman
General Manager

COVID-19 update # 5

Dear Residents, consumers, families, friends and staff,

Following the implementation of the tighter restrictions imposed from midnight on Wednesday, we have seen a relatively smooth transition.  In what is a stressful time for all, the staff are very appreciative of the support provided by residents and families. We have noted good compliance with the new visiting time restrictions (12-5pm each day) and 2 visitors per day; maximum of 2 hours.  We have implemented social distancing in our dining room for all meals – this is working well and my thanks go to the residents for their assistance in making this work and the staff who continue to work flexibly and always with a smile.  We have also applied the same to our staff meetings – we conducted our first meeting within the hall with a number of residents and visitors in attendance…I think this was well received.

As mentioned in Advice notice No.4 we have introduced compulsory face masks for all staff and visitors.  We are very limited in our ability to provide this to our staff and residents.  I would again ask families to provide their own masks which can be purchased from any pharmacy – we have been advised that Chester Hill Pharmacy currently has these available for purchase.  We understand that this may not always be the case and if so, we are able to provide small amounts at cost.  I wish to acknowledge some families have arranged with Sophia to purchase boxes of masks to be placed in the rooms and this is invoiced as an additional service.  Can family representatives please pass on this information to those visiting as some appear to be unaware of this requirement.

There are two developments within Aged Care sectors across Sydney.  The first is acknowledging some facilities have gone into ‘lock down’.  We are not contemplating this as long as we continue to see compliance with our current controls and there is no mandated requirement.  The second involves one new confirmed case (COVID-19) in both Quakers Hill and Bankstown aged care facilities. NSW Health is following up all close and casual contacts of both confirmed cases and both facilities are in lockdown (NSW Department of Health 25.3.2020). We are aware of the two facilities in question and can confirm that we do not have any staff working in either of these facilities.

Finally, a number of services can be conducted.  These are physiotherapy and podiatry allied health as well as hairdressing services.  We will be contacting Rosa to confirm she is able to resume services and our thanks to Chester Hill Physiotherapy who are providing a dedicated service to the Village which minimises potential exposure to COVID-19.

Please stay well and we strongly remind folks to follow the directions to self-isolate and maintain good social distance separations wherever you need to go out.  Likewise just like the Village, hand-washing is a central plank of prevention.  As always if there is any restriction that you feel strongly about please contact me on ph: 9645 3388 to arrange a face to face meeting with myself and the clinical manager (Sophia) so that we can make a suitable plan that can work for all parties.  Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me during normal business hours.  The next update is scheduled for Monday 30 March.

Glenn Kirkman
General Manager

COVID-19 update # 4

3 March 2020

Dear Residents, consumers, families, friends and staff 

As you can appreciate the COVID-19 situation is serious and the controls being implemented by the Government are continuing to tighten as the risk to our community continues to rise.  It is now clear that these restrictions will be in place for a significant period of time and this has particular relevance to our residents within the Village and our home care consumers.  Based on the latest advice from the Department of Health we will be further tightening our control measures to prevent COVID-19 affecting residents and consumers.  It is my intention to issue regular updates to you on Monday and Friday each week and at any time should there be any significant changes.  It is essential that we maximise communication for the duration of this crisis.

Commencing 24 March, 2020 the following changes are to be implemented:

  • All visitors including contractors must sign in and out.  It has come to our notice that during the week there has been a good level of compliance with the sign in/out procedure including preventative use of the hand gel stations at the gate, sign in book and throughout the Village however this has fallen away over the weekends.  I must remind everyone that the best form of defence against this virus is prevention.  The use of hand gel in combination of regular handwashing is a central pillar in successfully protecting people.  It is a CONDITION OF ENTRY and any observed failure to comply will result in being asked to leave the facility
  • A reminder that ALL visitors and staff who have returned from overseas or been in contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days will not be able to visit a residential aged care facility.  Nor will anyone with a fever, symptoms of a respiratory illness or who, from May 01 have not been vaccinated against Influenza.  We are currently awaiting the arrival of the flu vaccine and this will be administered to ALL residents and staff
  • Visits are now to be restricted to a maximum of 2 hours per day and restricted to two visitors each day (including the doctor)
  • In accordance with Department of Health guidelines we are forthwith reducing visiting hours to 12 noon to 1700 pm each day. We have consulted with our regular visitors to alert them to this change however I wish to seek the support from the family representative/s to coordinate visits with your families.  As these conditions have tightened it has placed an extra workload on staff and we need your support to work with us on the implementation of visit timings.  We do not want to be placed in a position of having to turn away family or friends however as can be seen in the general population, where control measures are being ignored it may lead to even stronger measures and I would remind you that the reason for these restrictions is to minimise the exposure of residents to this virus as the consequences are significant to the elderly
  • Children 16 years and under are not permitted to visit except in special circumstances
  • Effective immediately ALL STAFF working in the Village or providing home care support are required to wear face masks
  • All residents will be encouraged to wear face masks and all consumers receiving home care services will be required to wear a face mask for the duration of the service.
  • Commencing Wednesday 25 March, ALL VISITORS will be required to wear a face mask whilst visiting the Village.  These are currently in short supply and whilst we request visitors to provide their own masks we understand this may not be possible so if required, at sign on please indicate to the staff if you require a mask and it will be provided
  • The dining room meal service will be adjusted to incorporate the government stipulated 1.5m social distance rule.  We will be introducing additional tables and allowing residents to dine in their rooms
  • We will be reducing all non-essential external services.  This will include optometrist visits, podiatry, dentist and hairdressing etc.  Where emergency services are required we will arrange for these to be done in consultation with the resident/family
  • We recognise that these restrictions may have a significant impact on residents.  The activities coordinators will be making arrangements with residents and families to facilitate scheduled skype contact calls.  Additionally, the RN’s will be provided with an iPad to facilitate GP/Allied Health consultations.

I understand these changes may be difficult for residents and families.  It is important to work together to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent it entering the Village.  If there is any restriction that you feel strongly about please contact me to arrange a face to face meeting with myself and the clinical manager (Sophia) so that we can make a suitable plan that can work for all parties.  Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me during normal business hours.  Unless anything dramatic is announced over the next few days, the next update will be this coming Friday 27 March.

Glenn Kirkman
General Manager

COVID-19 update # 3

The Government has released new restrictions effective immediately to protect the well-being of aged care residents, staff, families and visitors.  The latest Department of Health COVID-19 information sheet will be displayed prominently throughout the Village and a summary of the tighter conditions of entry are summarised below:

  • All large group activities and external activities are now postponed indefinitely
  • All staff are undertaking temperature checks at the commencement of each shift.  Any staff member displaying an elevated temperature will be required to cease work and obtain a medical clearance prior to resuming work
  • Residents are monitored daily for general well-being.  Any resident who displays or develops symptoms of COVID-19 will be isolated or if required transported to hospital and will not be able to see visitors until medically cleared.  The facility will liaise with families should this eventuate.  I would reiterate at this time that we have no cases of COVID-19 with residents or staff.
  • We have strengthened the presence of hand sanitisers at all points of entry to the Village including the main gate, administration, and buildings within the Village.  It is a condition of entry that ALL visitors use the dispenser on entry and periodically during their visit.  Handwashing remains a key defence in combating COVID-19 so you are required to wash your hands with soap and water when entering/leaving a residents room and encouraged to practice social distancing
  • All visitors including contractors must sign in and out.  Contractors are being restricted to essential works only.  We will be making enquiries to determine if we can continue with our regular physiotherapy treatments as allied health visits are to be affected
  • Visitors and staff who have returned from overseas or been in contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days will not be able to visit a residential aged care facility.  Nor will anyone with a fever, symptoms of a respiratory illness or who, from May 01 have not been vaccinated against Influenza
  • Visits should be short (no longer than 2 hours) and restricted to two visitors at a time with a maximum of 4 people each day (including the doctor).  In accordance with Department of Health guidelines we are forthwith reducing visiting hours to 0900 am to 1700 pm each day. Visits should be conducted in residents rooms or open spaces away from other residents. In the event that families need to visit outside of these hours, they need to contact the Clinical Care Manager or registered nurse to vary the arrangement
  • Children 16 years and under are not permitted to visit except in special circumstances
  • For our Home Care consumers, we will be providing a specific update in relation to your service tomorrow.  Currently, our staff have received training in dealing with the COVID-19 emergency and have the appropriate personal protective equipment to provide normal services.  Should you have any concerns or wish to adjust your service please contact the Coordinators (Elizabett or Nina) on 02 9645 3388

We appreciate this is a difficult time and the increasing restrictions may cause distress for some residents.  We will be working with IT to provide contact via skype/facetime applications.  Should you wish to explore these options please contact the duty registered nurse or administration during normal business.  Given the changing nature of COVID-19 we can anticipate further restrictions being imposed including the possibility of complete lock down.  We will communicate all changes as they develop.  Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the centre.

Glenn Kirkman
General Manager

COVID-19 update

Updated Friday 13 February 2020

The emerging virus pandemic is heightening the importance of clear measures to protect Abel Tasman residents. Here is an outline some of our processes and recommendations to keep them safe.

From today, visitor access can only be facilitated by ATV staff. Please push the red button at the gate to request entry.

  • Don’t forget to enter your details on the Entry Sheet – it is essential for us to maintain entry records.
  • Regular hand washing is rigidly enforced for everyone and facilitated by additional dispensers, including at the visitor check-in.
  • While, at this stage, we are not undergoing a lock-down of the facility, we advise all visitors to please not attend Abel Tasman Village unless you are confident of your own  health status and are prepared to take personal hygiene measures.

Of course there are many sources of information about the virus and its spread:
We recommend the National Corona Virus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 – If you require translation, call 131 450.  State and Territory numbers are here.
The Commonwealth Department of Health  has a health alerts page.

Rest assured that we will continue to regularly communicate the status of residents at our facility.