St Agnes' Care & Lifestyle
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St Agnes' Care & Lifestyle

(02) 5525 3600 | Mon – Fri 8:30am – 4:30pm

St Agnes' Care and Lifestyle - Donnelly House

COVID-19 Updates

Stay connected with the latest updates.

Dear Residents and Families,

As communities have begun to re-open following the initial peak of COVID-19, we have continued to closely monitor the situation across New South Wales. We thank you for your support as we have adjusted visitor arrangements in line with advice from Commonwealth and State authorities.

Current situation
Unfortunately, we are starting to see renewed risk in areas of our State, with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Sydney, where NSW Health has declared a number of COVID-19 clusters.

Our actions to protect residents and team
Given this escalation over the past week, we have made the difficult decision to again reduce visitors coming into our home -effective from Friday July 17th. We believe this in necessary while investigations continue into community transmission.

Aged Care Visits

  • Visits will occur under the following conditions:
  • Visits will need to be booked with the facility and with the agreement of the resident
  • Visits should be brief (up to 30mins) and be conducted in the designated area only
  • The Visit area will be cleaned between every visit to minimise the possibility of virus transmission
  • Visits will be between 10am and 3pm every day except Saturdays, where there will be no visits permitted
  • Social Distancing guidelines will need to be followed during visits
  • Visitors should arrive before their booking time to undertake screening, which will include:
    • Name, Address and region lived for last 14 days
    • Confirmation visitors have not been overseas in the last 14 days
    • Confirmation visitors have not been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
    • Confirmation visitors have not been in hot spot areas listed by the Health Department
    • Confirmation visitors have no COVID-19 or influenza-like symptoms
    • Temperature screening
  • Visitors are to enter and exit our services through one entry point at the front door and to use our hand sanitising stations.
  • Visitors must have been vaccinated against influenza and provide evidence of the vaccination prior to the visit. (including children over 6 months).
  • 1 care and support visit per resident a day with 2 visitors present maximum
  • For individual residents with very specific needs, creating an exception category that enables visits under prescribed conditions, for example enabling a support person to visit to reduce distress or confusion of a resident with certain conditions, such as dementia.

Our visitor arrangements are consistent with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and the Industry Code for Visiting Aged Care Homes during COVID-19.

Reviewing the situation
We will provide further advice on visitor arrangements taking into account daily case numbers of COVID-19 together with advice from NSW Health.

Caring for our residents
Regular checks for every resident for any symptoms of respiratory illness, including temperature checks, and Covid19 testing as appropriate.

It is vital that we continue to enable our residents to engage in stimulating and enjoyable activities each day. We are supporting residents to connect with loved ones via video calls via Zoom, Skype and Facetime and regular update phone calls from our team to families. Please let us know how these channels are working for you and if there’s anything more we can do to help you stay closely in touch.

Thank you again for your patience and cooperation. We have learned through this pandemic that the situation can change quickly. We will act equally quickly in response to any increasing risk. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to discuss your loved one’s care, please don’t hesitate to call the facility.

Kind Regards,

Bronwyn Chalker
General Manager
St Agnes’ Care and Community Services

In my last update I spoke about an “abundance of caution” in the Parish’s response to COVID-19. In line with this, discussions in our most recent Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) meetings have shifted firmly to our local context. Specifically, we have considered two main questions at a much deeper level; How do we continue our success in ensuring that our services remain COVID-free? and; If the worse does happen and we get a positive COVID-19 result in one of our services, how do we immediately respond?

In considering these questions we are drawing on our own expertise, government advice as well as careful analysis of other outbreaks. It has been evident in other outbreaks that behaviours were crucial in limiting the spread of the virus, particularly in relation to travel. Therefore, I have communicated to staff the importance of limiting unnecessary travel to hotspot and at-risk areas designated by NSW Health.

A list of these areas is updated daily by NSW Health and should be consulted prior to travelling to and from our local area. The list can be viewed by clicking here. The website provides a list of:

  • Local Government Areas (LGAs) where there is increased COVID-19 testing. If you have visited these areas, advice is to get tested
  • Specific NSW locations that have had positive COVID-19 cases, which if you have visited, you will need to isolate for 14 days and get tested
  • NSW suburbs, which if you have visited, watch for COVID-19 symptoms

Switching now to the second question of how to respond if we are faced with an outbreak. To ensure we are best prepared for this, the CIMT has established a Rapid Response Team (RRT) that will mobilise quickly and effectively, and engage all relevant parts of the Parish.

The RRT comprises representatives across all service areas of the Parish, as well as support areas such as property, IT and communications. The plan supporting the RRT documents roles, tasks, communications and actions. In order to test this plan, we are conducting ‘scenario training’ this week to test our response to a COVID-19 outbreak. This exercise will provide useful learnings for all of us and is another important step in keeping everyone safe.

This is a difficult phase of the pandemic because on one hand, general activities continue to return to some semblance of normal, however on the other hand there is a great deal of anxiety and concern about community transmission. As individuals, this leaves us balancing a return to some normal behaviours whilst ensuring that, more than ever, we must continue to educate and remind ourselves about behaviours and practices that limit the spread of COVID-19 to ultimately protect the health and lives of those we care for.

Thank you for your continued support and everything you are doing to look after our community.

Regards,

Adam Spencer, Chief Executive Officer

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

As events continue to unfold across Victoria, in Sydney and sections of Queensland to deal with a growing COVID-19 crisis, we must remain vigilant and ensure we are prepared for any local impact that may occur.

As I have stated from the start of COVID-19, our commitment as a Parish should be to respond to this crisis with the highest possible standard of vigilance. Recently, politicians have been using the phrase “an abundance of caution” and, as we enter this new phase of COVID, I think that this concept should indeed characterise our response. We know that as an organisation we look after some of the most vulnerable in our community and this is a collective responsibility for all of us, whether we work with the vulnerable directly or not.

At the time of writing, we have not had any positive COVID-19 cases in the Mid North Coast district for 100 days. This is good news, but it is certainly not the time for any complacency. For months, we have heard about the importance of social distancing, good hygiene practices and staying at home if displaying any COVID-19 symptoms, but it seems in the current environment this is not enough and we will begin to see additional requirements put in place.

Staff and residents in our aged care services are particularly at risk, which is evident in some of the harrowing stories of COVID-19’s impact on aged care in Victoria.

To ensure we are as prepared as we can be, we do have COVID-19 plans in place and will continue to work hard at doing more across all our services. Therefore, you will begin to see face masks and temperature readings become mandatory at Mass. You may be asked additional questions or need to provide more details when you enter one of our buildings. Staff may be required to be involved in more COVID-related training. Whatever it may be, please know that our objective is to keep our people safe and that I seek your full participation as required.

As always, I thank you for your commitment to your work, our residents, families, clients and colleagues and for everything you are doing to keep our community safe. While it seems the road to overcoming COVID-19 is long, we are all travelling it together.

Regards,

Adam Spencer

Chief Executive Officer

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Just when it appeared the state was on track to head back to some sort of normality, the number of COVID-19 cases dramatically increased in Victoria and in hotspots identified in Sydney as well.

Subsequently our Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) reconvened on Friday to ensure that, as a Parish, we remain vigilant in watching these events and prepare a preemptive response. Practically speaking, watching infection rates rise demonstrates that we must be ever vigilant when it comes to the virus. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by the new outbreak, including staff who are treating and testing for COVID-19. We pray that individuals can recover as soon as possible physically and mentally, and we also pray for the entire community including the businesses that are struggling to cope.

Locally, we must continue to do all we can by continuing to follow social distancing and optimal hygiene practices, including staying at home if you are sick, to minimise any chance of an outbreak. There are currently 40 Aged Care homes in Victoria that have now had outbreaks and many of these were instigated by staff going to work unwell. This indeed is a sobering reminding of the possible impacts of ignoring symptoms. I cannot stress how important it is, particularly in Aged Care, to stay away if you are unwell.

As mentioned, CIMT continues to meet to discuss and action issues. Additionally, any COVID-19-related issues are being addressed at the weekly meetings of the Parish Leaders Team Executive.

Here is an update across our services:

Our aged care and disability services
We are mandating hyper-vigilance in Aged Care and I would like to thank residents, their families and staff for understanding this approach. All residents and their families were sent information last week regarding new restrictions on visits to our residential services. These are similar to previous arrangements where visitors must pre-book appointments with residents, have temperature readings and confirm any visits to hot spot areas. Click here to read this communication.

Our early education and schools
Our early education services have sanitisation stations provided at entry points which all visitors must use. We have noted some instances where families in the usual morning rush omit this step on entry to facilities so we have created more prompts and signage to remind even the busiest of families that sanitisation on entry is a must. Schools have returned for Term 3 and have reiterated social distancing and hygiene practices that previously existed however, a new distinction is that staff and students must indicate any recent visits to Victoria and other hotspot areas.

Our people
The past month has seen staff that were working from home gradually come back to onsite work. Our IT team has been very helpful in ensuring this occurs as smoothly as possible. Mental health and wellbeing is key over this period especially with the uncertainty associated with any potential future lockdowns.

Please check in with your family and colleagues regularly to ensure they are coping.

Our mission
Mass continues to be held at Christ the King Chapel until renovations on the Church are completed. Fr Paul has proposed a new list of Mass times, which can be viewed here. We are continuing to deliver packages to those that come to us in need. Please let people know we are here to help. Also if you would like to support those in need during this pandemic, you can donate at the Parish website at: https://stagnesparish.org.au/giving/appeals/.

As I have said from the start, I am so very proud and grateful of the way we have managed COVID-19 since the pandemic began, especially when you see the impact COVID-19 has had on other communities particularly across aged care services and schools. Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to protect our community and those for which we care.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.

Regards,

Adam Spencer

Chief Executive Officer

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

With cases of COVID-19 consistently declining over the past few weeks, there has been a shift in focus on a return to ‘normal’. Thank you to everyone who have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 shutdown and are showing the same level of commitment as we move to a likeness of what our world looked like before COVID-19. The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) has moved from meeting three times per week to once per week over this time and are communicating on COVID-19-related issues as required and to specific audiences. As such, future communiques will become less frequent.

However with the return to normal and with COVID-19 not totally eradicated, we will still need to include a balance of behaviour that reduces any chance of another wave of the virus. Here is an update of what this means for our services across the Parish:

Our aged care and disability services
The Government recently confirmed that staff in aged care and disability services are now exempt from social distancing requirements. Each of our teams are working through these changes and what it means for residents and participants. Additionally, our managers across these services are continuing to put plans in place in case of any possible COVID-19 outbreaks in the future. It was great to see that the Youth Hub has reopened this week.

Our early education services and schools
The details of Government subsidies for child care payments, for families, will be finalised next month. Both our primary and secondary schools are now operating under the pre-COVID educational model and have done so since 9 June. It is helpful that Catholic Schools NSW has issued guidelines for schools in regards to infection control, visitors, meetings and recommencing of sporting and other activities to minimise any possibility of future COVID-19 outbreak and transmission. The Uniform Store has returned to regular operating hours and The Francis Retreat has reopened as well.

Our people
As increased numbers of people return to work and engage in social activities, some workers and volunteers may be more vulnerable to the risk of COVID-19 than others. Click here to see the Government’s definition of vulnerable workers. From a volunteers’ perspective we are currently working on what this definition means for them. We expect to be communicating with our volunteers on this issue within the near future.

Our Mission
With St Agnes’ Church still being renovated, Mass has returned at Christ the King Chapel in Boronia Street. There are still social distancing requirements for these Masses as the Chapel can only hold limited numbers. If you would like to attend Mass please book in advance. The procedures for booking can be found on our website by clicking here. My sincerest thanks goes to everyone who has supported our COVID-19 appeal with donations allowing for further care packages to be delivered to those in need. If you would like to donate you can do so via this weblink.

Thank you for your commitment in this next stage of our return to normal. Please continue to take care of yourself and each other.

Regards.

Adam Spencer

Chief Executive Officer

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Drop into Donnelly House,
150-152 Horton St, Port Macquarie

Book an appointment with our friendly team

Complete the details below and we’ll call you back to arrange a time convenient to you.

Field is required!
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We have a dedicated support service to help you

We will respond to all enquiries within 48 hours

Visit Us

Drop into Donnelly House,
150-152 Horton St, Port Macquarie

St Agnes' Catholic Parish

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