In addition to our updates, we wish to provide the following information in relation to our preparedness for any cases of COVID-19.
I wish to also reinforce that Finley Regional Care does not have any cases of COVID -19.
Finley Regional Care has always and continues to have an up to date “Outbreak Management Plan” and “Infection Control Policy”.
This plan and policy specify immediate and ongoing actions we take in response to disease outbreaks like Gastroenteritis and Influenza.
With the threat of the new virus, COVID-19, our plans were updated to include the specific requirements of this disease before the worldwide pandemic was declared.
This was in conjunction with advice from the Federal Department of Health, Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission, NSW Health and local agencies. In addition, Finley Regional Care Board and Executive – knowing our local situation, proximity to the Victorian and New South Wales border and location on a major transport link (Newel Highway) took extra precautions to protect our residents and clients above the recommendations of the government agencies.
As the Pandemic has continued, more and more information has become available about its behaviour and the risks it poses. In short COVID-19 is a more contagious and easily spread disease than influenza. Carriers are contagious before any symptoms develop. This presents a unique challenge for protecting our most vulnerable people in our aged care and home care settings.
Our precautions include, but are not limited to:
- Regular and ongoing screening of all residents and clients, staff, contractors, service providers and visitors (family and friends). This includes symptom monitoring and temperature checks.
- Updating the screening criteria as the situation changes. At the moment we are updating the screening questions daily based on information provided by the NSW and Victorian Government departments of Health and Public Health Units, as well as Murrumbidgee Local Health District and Primary Health Network.
- Limiting Visits and other activities on site (primary and high school children visits postponed)
- The wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including surgical face masks, gowns, gloves, and eye protection. We have ongoing supply from our regular suppliers and have occasional accessed the national stockpile to top up our supply.
- Limiting the movement of staff internally and across multiple work units
- Providing alternate ways for residents’ family and friends to continue to have socially distanced contact in a safe way.
- Updated and repeated training in infection control, hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment. This has included 1 to 1 practical sessions and assessment of every staff member. The infection control and Covid specific education is provided by our existing provider – Altura, and we have confirmed our training is more comprehensive than the free federal government training that was made available.
- Participating in a peer reviewed “Mock” desktop scenario that tested our responses and processes. Feedback after the scenario from the peer group was very positive and assured us that we have very good processes and systems in place.
Should an outbreak occur we have a planned staged response to minimise the spread of an infection with specific actions for the initial and subsequent minutes, hours and days following a detection. This includes notifying the Department of Health and other support agencies.
At yesterday’s Resident and Representative meeting, we explained how, depending on the location of any infection, we declare a “Code Yellow – Internal Emergency”. Residents and staff would be relocated in a manageable and controlled way. This would include transfer of Residents to a hospital setting if appropriate or to a designated quarantine zone within the facility.
We know that some of the decisions and activities we have enacted has caused stress to individuals. For that we apologise.
However, we implement these strategies for good reasons and will continue to make decisions based on the best evidence and advice in the interests of everyone in our community. This is a complex and evolving situation and we will provide factual updates as soon as we can.
Lastly, be assured we are and will continue to do everything within our power to protect the entire Finley Regional Care Community. The most effective way is to keep this terrible disease from getting into our facility in the first place. Everyone has a part to play.
Stay Well, Stay Safe and follow the Rules.
Executive Director of Operations
Finley Regional Care