Bene puts resident safety first in maintaining strong line of defence against COVID-19

Dear Residents, Families and Representatives,

RE: COVID-19 weekly update

You may well be confused by recent statements by the Prime Minister that Aged Care providers should be opening up facilities to 1 visit per resident per day. The Bene Board met on the 21st April 2020 and has requested that we reinforce that Bene will continue to put resident safety first. There is no second line defence once the virus enters a facility, as we can see by the tragedy unfolding in NSW, Europe and the US with thousands of residents of care homes passing away due to Coronavirus.

The Bene Board wishes families to know that the SAPOL State Emergency Management Direction 2020, with which all aged care providers in SA are required to comply, currently governs the issue of visits to Aged Care Facilities in SA. The PM’s recent impromptu media statement is inconsistent with the SAPOL State Emergency Management Direction 2020 and has no legal enforceability. The Board is well aware of the stress and anxiety of the visitor restrictions placed on residents, families and staff. However, with the safety of our residents of paramount importance, we advise that our current visitor restrictions will remain in place. The Bene Board directive is that the residential aged care sites will remain closed to visitors except for the families of residents receiving end of life care (palliative care) until further notice.

Please see below a statement dated 21st April from Aged and Community Services (ACSA), the Aged Care peak body, that clearly states we are still under state emergency management directions;

“Aged care taking strong action to protect vulnerable people”

The peak body for non-profit aged care providers Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has responded to comments made today by the Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer, saying the sector is taking strong action to control the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable people in its care.

The Commonwealth Guidelines and State directives providers are operating under are all still in place and being complied with. They have not changed. In some cases, individual providers have made difficult decisions to make further restrictions depending on their individual circumstances including location and individual needs of residents.

“We have taken a very strong position in aged care because we are looking after vulnerable people,” CEO of ACSA Patricia Sparrow said.

“Given the terrible circumstances we face, results to date indicate the situation has been managed as well as can be expected, but we need to remain vigilant. We require further clarity from the government because the current restrictions are causing confusion and distress.”

“This is an unprecedented situation. Not all decisions will be perfect because we are balancing a serious pandemic with keeping people socially connected. There are increased mental and health supports available across Australia to try and limit the social isolation many are experiencing. “

“Providers are very focussed on supporting the mental and spiritual health and wellbeing of residents. We care. That’s why we provide aged care.”

“These decisions haven’t been made lightly. We are acutely aware of the hardship being faced by many families and residents in aged care. Our first priority will always be the health and safety of the vulnerable older Australians in our care.”

Bene is constantly reviewing our policy in line with the changing situation and are preparing for the next phase of the Covid 19 emergency. SA Health are amending their policies daily and Bene will move in line with the legal requirements and the latest SA Health advice to Aged Care providers.

Bene continues to:

  • Test everyone’s temperature – staff, medical and allied health staff and those families visiting palliative care residents
  • Ensure that the residential aged care sites have prominent hand sanitising available and other personnel protective equipment available
  • Provide information that details the current legal requirements of entry

During this time Bene has also:

  • Facilitated window visits – loved ones are seeing their family through external windows
  • Committed to extra staff to replace volunteers by redeployment of community care staff to residential sites
  • Increased allied health support engaged in lifestyle programs at all sites
  • Implemented technological aids such as CareApp and FaceTime-scheduled phone calls
  • Provided regular updates for families

To the residents of our Homes:

We urge you to continue washing your hands frequently, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, keeping 1.5 metres away from each other when possible and accept large gatherings are no longer being held.

We thank you for your ongoing patience and support and respect for our caring staff.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew McFarlane
Chief Executive Officer

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