St Agnes' Care & Lifestyle
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St Agnes' Care and Lifestyle - Donnelly House

General COVID-19 Updates

Stay connected with the latest updates.

22 April 2022

Dear Residents and Families,

RESIDENTAL CARE SERVICES: COVID PRECAUTIONS STILL IN PLACE FOR VISITORS

Many of you will have already heard and seen on the News the changes announced by the NSW Government about the easing of restrictions for people who have been a close contact of a COVID case.

While non-symptomatic close contacts no longer have to isolate, they still need to abide by certain conditions (such as seven-day RAT testing program, wearing masks and staying away from Aged Care services) and must self-isolate if they do develop symptoms.

This letter is to let residents, families and visitors know we still have precautions in place to help us safely manage COVID risks in our residential care services.

Please note, there have been no changes to the Visitor arrangements outlined in our letter of 12 April, which are as follows:

  • Residents are permitted to have two fully vaccinated visitors aged 12 years and over, plus two children aged under 12 years per day.
  • Wherever possible, the visit should be in an outdoor area. Visits should not be in any inside communal areas.
  • All visits must be pre-booked for times between the hours of 10am to 3pm daily. This can be done online at org.au
  • Check-in screening and Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) are still required for visitors prior to entry.
  • Visitors aged 12 years and over must have received a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days prior to their visit and are strongly encouraged to get a booster vaccine if they are eligible for one.
  • Up to two children under 12 years are permitted to visit provided they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated person.
  • All visitors must wear a surgical mask over their nose and mouth while visiting. (Note, Children under 3 years of age should not wear a mask as it is a choking hazard). For reasons when masks can be removed see Additional Advice – Mandatory mask wearing.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do in maintaining COVID-safe practices and by patiently following procedures at the entrance to our service. Simple things (such as not visiting if you are even slightly unwell, regular sanitising or washing of hands, allowing space, and staying up to date with vaccinations) will continue to serve us well.

Thank you for your vigilance and please continue to stay safe and take care of each other.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care & Community Services 

31 January 2022

Dear Residents and families,

RAC ADVICE #4: CHANGES TO VISITING AND TESTING PROCEDURES

Thank you to everyone for following our procedures over the Australia Day period. It is always a great time for families to spend time together. However, with any increased number of visitors it was important we remained vigilant by following our visiting procedures and we appreciate your patience and support during this time.

We would ask that you continue to remain vigilant over the coming weeks as the start of the school year commences. As students return, it means more people are interacting with each other that may lead to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. We can minimise the impact of this by continuing to follow our proven COVID-19 safe practices.

We are always looking at ways to strengthen our protection from COVID-19 and one of the ways we have done this is through a booster immunisation clinic conducted at Emmaus for staff. We are pleased with the number of staff that received their booster shots and know that this will continue to be an added protection for all of us.

Please note that over the next few weeks there may be changes to our Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) procedures, where you may be asked additional questions by reception or via the online check-in process (called Zipline) when you first enter our services. These changes are based on an ongoing process of improving and refining our risk assessment procedures and to incorporate any updates to government health advice that we receive.

We recently received advice from NSW Health regarding additional precautions for those identified as a high/moderate COVID-19 risk. The advice applies to those who have been a household contact or spent time with a positive case, which means they are unable to visit any aged care services for another seven days after leaving isolation. Read details of the advice here.

We will continue to keep you updated of any changes to visitations through these updates, Zipline or via information provided by reception.

Thank you for your vigilance and please continue to stay safe and take care of each other.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care & Community Services 

For the past two weeks, we have been Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) visitors to our services. Thank you to everyone who have supported us with this as an added component to our visitor check-in procedures.

This is an important part of our COVID-19 testing and early detection process. It has proven to be effective in identifying possible COVID-19 cases early and in doing so, protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, residents and families.

We would appreciate your ongoing support in following our screening processes when entering any of our locations. This includes:

  • pre-booking your visit within reception (visiting hours are between 10am and 3pm daily)
  • arriving 20 minutes early to allow time for testing
  • remaining outside while waiting for entry
  • completing the forms required if you are taking a resident on an outing

Sometimes when we receive an increased number of visitors, which may be the case during the Australia Day holiday this week, it may take additional time prior to entry and we appreciate your patience through this process.

For those considering taking a resident on an outing, we advise to avoid high-risk, densely populated events and locations such as shopping centres, pubs and clubs. Also avoid home visits where attendees are isolating, display COVID-19 symptoms or have been close contacts of positive cases. For additional protection, observe NSW Health guidelines for physical distancing, hand hygiene and face masks.

Both the Australia Day holiday and commencement of the school year next week means more interactions between people and potentially more positive COVID-19 cases and we all should be especially vigilant over this time.

Please continue to stay safe and take care of each other.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care & Community Services 

12 January 2022

Dear Residents and families,

RAC ADVICE #2: VISITOR RAPID ANTIGENT TESTING (RAT)

On Monday, we received advice from NSW Health about Rapid Antigen testing (RAT) for visitors entering residential aged care services. We have commenced undertaking RAT on visitors from today.

As most of you would be aware, RATs are expensive and in short supply. We are still investigating how we can best facilitate and sustain this requirement in the longer term.

In the short term, we are implementing the following process:

  • Every visitor to the site is subject to a screening process at the entry to our residential care services. Anyone who presents with signs or symptoms of COVID, or who has an elevated temperature, will be not be able to proceed with their visit.
  • After passing successfully through the screening process visitors will also be asked to undergo a RAT and must return a negative result before their visit proceeds.
  • It is the responsibility of the visitor to notify Service NSW of a positive result.

We ask visitors to arrive about 20 minutes prior to their scheduled visit time to enable adequate time for the pre-visit screening and RAT process to be carried out.

To avoid disappointment, please do not visit if you are unwell or have any signs or symptoms of COVID.

Please phone to let us know if you are cancelling your visit so the staff who were allocated to carry out RAT can be redeployed elsewhere.

We continue to facilitate visits to residents as safely as we can. Our current visitation arrangements are:

  • Every visit must be planned and pre-booked with reception
  • Residents may receive one visitor per day in their room or in an outdoor space for one hour
  • Visits are between 10am and 3pm

If you are feeling anxious about anything, please talk to us (or email us if that is what works for you) and we will do our best to help allay your concerns.

We truly appreciate the kindness and patience shown to staff as they observe Australian Government and NSW Health requirements for people visiting residents in our services.

Please continue to stay safe and take care of each other.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care and Community Services

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

5 January 2022

Dear Residents and Families,

JANUARY ADVICE #1: MONITORING CLOSELY AS COMMUNITY CASE NUMBERS RISE

As a result of Christmas/New Year gatherings and the influx of visitors to the area, we are, as expected, now seeing a surge in local COVID cases.

This advice is to reassure you that we are doing everything we can, as well as we can, with as much care as we can, to keep everyone safe.

We are currently managing COVID exposures, and the risks associated with them, across our facilities.  The way we are doing this includes adapting PPE requirements, increasing resident and staff Rapid Antigen testing as identified following individualised risk assessments. We are also monitoring residents for signs and symptoms of COVID at changing intervals throughout the course of each day.

We are keeping a close eye on the current situation whilst maintaining visitation arrangements, lifestyle and outing opportunities for residents. Currently, we are waiting on test results for the exposure cases we have been notified of. We will update families and residents in person or via telephone if further risks are identified.

As our Government encourages us to learn to live with COVID, we continue to adapt our systems, so we are ready to respond quickly to reports of any exposure (be it a staff member, resident or visitor).

Together, we must all, conscientiously, maintain the practices we know to reduce the risk of COVID transmission (ie face masks, hand hygiene, physical spacing and vaccination) in our community.

Our last lines of defence against COVID are the practices we have implemented at each of our residential sites such as:

  • screening visitors and staff at the entry to our residential services
  • staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • implementing our Outbreak Management Plan when alerted to a higher level of risk

You are our first line of defence; you can help by:

  • providing us with early information if you are experiencing signs/symptoms of COVID
  • staying home if you are not well, even with slight symptoms.
  • notifying us immediately of any potential exposure you may have had within the community.
  • cooperating with staff when asked to follow our COVID risk management practices.

For example, as a visitor, you may be asked to wear extra PPE (personal protective equipment) or to take a different path to the room of the resident you are visiting.

Managing COVID depends on each of us sharing the responsibility for managing the risks associated with it.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care and Community Services

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

29 December 2021

Dear Residents and Families,

DECEMBER GENERAL ADVICE #3: RISK MANAGEMENT IS AN IMPORTANT COVID DEFENCE

Over the last few weeks, we have been communicating regularly with residents and families at St Agnes’ Site and Emmaus about the management of COVID situations in those locations. We are fortunate, especially considering the wave of infections currently sweeping the state, that so far, no residents at these sites has contracted COVID.

Our ‘new normal’ is to live with the risk of COVID. We must be ready to respond quickly to reports of any exposure (be it a staff member, resident or visitor). Together, we must all, conscientiously, maintain the practices we know to reduce the risk of COVID transmission (ie face masks, hand hygiene, physical spacing and vaccination) in our community.

Managing COVID depends on each of us sharing the responsibility for managing the risks associated with it.

Our last lines of defence against COVID are the practices we have implemented at each of our residential sites such as:

  • screening visitors and staff at entry to our residential services
  • staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • implementing our Outbreak Management Plan when we are alerted to a higher level of risk (as we have done in the last few weeks).

You are our first line of defence; you can help by:

  • providing us with early information about any exposure you’ve had that may increase your COVID risk (and ours)
  • staying home if you are not well, even with slight symptoms.
  • Cooperating with staff when asked to follow our COVID risk management practices.

For example, if you visited one of our services, or have been on an outing in the community, during the holiday season and begin to show any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 please let us know as soon as possible so we can risk assess any precautionary measures we may need to implement.

COVID is not going away so we need to build our arsenal for dealing with it. Our strongest weapon against it is the good relationship we build with each other; sharing timely information that enables rapid response to the risks it presents.

With good communication and cooperation, together, we can manage the risk of COVID

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care and Community Services

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

23 December 2021

Dear Residents and Families,

ST AGNES’ SITE ADVICE 1: CHRISTMAS VISITS & OUTING ARRANGEMENTS

With everything that has been going on the last couple of weeks, I thought it timely to let you know the current arrangements for visits and outings over the Christmas weekend at Mt Carmel, Maryknoll, and St Agnes’ House.

As COVID case numbers increase across the state and holidaymakers and visitors flow into the region, we continue to be in a high risk, ever-changing environment.  We are monitoring the situation very closely and may need to change our requirements for visitation and outings at short notice. We ask for your patience and understanding if this occurs and, respectfully, ask that you follow any direction given by staff, in facilitating visits or outings.

Arrangements for Visitors

Residents are permitted two fully vaccinated visitors (12 years and over) and two children (under 12 years) per day. All visitors must check-in via our screening system at the main entrance and are required to wear face masks whilst visiting.

NSW Health has given direction to exclude any visitors who:

  • Are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days prior to visiting, except for children under 12 years.
  • Have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Have had a COVID-19 test and are waiting on the test result.
  • Are a close or casual contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 unless they have completed their self-isolation and testing requirements
  • Are under a self-isolation order
  • Have been to a country of concern in the last 14 days
  • Have been to any other countries in the last 14 days unless they are: Fully vaccinated and at least 7 days have passed since their arrival in NSW and they have received a result from their day 6 test.

Resident Outings

Residents may attend family gatherings or other outings but must abide by the Public Health (COVID-19 General Order) 2021. They must not go to any location where a person is awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test or is in isolation as a result of contracting COVID-19. Ideally, outings should be in the homes of the resident’s family or in open outdoor areas where physical distancing can be maintained.

Families follow the current NSW Health advice (eg physical distancing, hand hygiene and face masks) when planning outings or gatherings and, for the added protection of their loved one, may wish to consider taking a voluntary COVID-19 test (e.g. a rapid antigen test) prior to the event. We encourage you to avoid visiting high community activity areas such as pubs, clubs, shopping centre.

The Residential Service Manager may need to conduct a risk assessment prior to the outing.

I take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas and to thank you, again, for your support during the challenges of the last 18 months and, especially, during these last few weeks.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care and Community Services

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

NSW Health has provided us with information to help keep our residents COVID safe over the Christmas/New Year holidays. As we have done in the past, we are sharing it with you so you can consider it when making plans for any visits or outings during the festive season.
Arrangements for Visitors.

Residents are permitted two fully vaccinated visitors (12 years and over) and two children (under 12 years) per day. All visitors must check-in via our screening system at the main entrance and are required to wear face masks whilst visiting.

NSW Health has given direction to exclude any visitors who:

  • Are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days prior to visiting, except for children under 12 years.
  • Have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Have had a COVID-19 test and are waiting on the test result.
  • Are a close or casual contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 unless they have completed their self-isolation and testing requirements
  • Are under a self-isolation order
  • Have been to a country of concern in the last 14 days
    Have been to any other countries in the last 14 days, unless they are: Fully vaccinated and at least 7 days have passed since their arrival in NSW and they have received a result from their day 6 test.

Resident Outings
Residents may leave the site to attend family gatherings or other outings but must abide by the Public Health (COVID-19 General Order) 2021. They must not go into any location where a person is awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test or is in isolation as a result of contracting COVID-19.
Families should take into account the current NSW health advice when planning outings or gatherings and, for the added protection of their loved one, may wish to consider taking a voluntary COVID-19 test (e.g. a rapid antigen test) prior to the event.

As you know, we are in the hands of NSW Health when it comes to COVID so the advice above may change at short notice, but we will do our best inform you promptly if we become aware of any changes.

In the meantime, we are all praying that this Christmas brings a happy, peaceful, and restful time for everyone. Thank you again for your support and patience during the pandemic.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to call your service manager and team.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care and Community Services

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

I am writing to update you to visiting arrangements as at Wednesday 3 November with regard, especially, to children visiting residents in our services.
Per this advice from NSW Health:

  • Two (2) fully vaccinated people aged 12 years and over plus two (2) children aged under 12 may visit a resident in a 24-hour period.
  • Visitors aged 12 years and over must have received their second dose of a COVID vaccination at least 14 days prior to their visit.
  • Children under 12 years are permitted to visit only if they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated person

Where visits include a child under 12, we are following the NSW Health recommendations which state that, where possible:

  • the visit is in an outdoor area
  • the child should wear a mask
  • Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) is arranged prior to a visit

Visitors over 12 years of age are still required to show evidence of their vaccination status (or present medical contraindication certificate which exempts them from being vaccinated) before entering the residential care service.

All visitors must wear surgical face masks when indoors and will undergo screening prior to entry and may be turned away if they do not meet the conditions set down for entry. Visits must take place in resident’s room.

In situations where you may need to visit a resident at end of life please contact the Residential Service Manager to arrange this.
Obtaining Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

In line with the requirement for proof of vaccination, you can obtain this by signing into the Medicare website or by contacting the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 to arrange for a copy to be emailed or posted to you. We appreciate any support families can give in helping residents with this process.

It is wonderful that our residents are now able to have more visitors. We have all missed you!

As we continue open up, it is critical that we all play our part in managing the risk around COVID. Your ongoing support and patience in helping us follow

COVID safe practices is very much appreciated.

If you have any questions, please talk to your Residential Service Manager.

Bronwyn Chalker 

General Manager, Care and Community Services 

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

Further to the advice sent on Friday 8 October, NSW Health released updated information for Residential Aged Care services as part of the NSW Government’s Roadmap to re-opening the state.

Visitor restrictions

Only two visitors per day per resident are permitted.

Visitors must:

  • be at least 12 years of age
  • have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (with the 2nd dose received at least 14 days prior to the visit.
  • Show evidence of their vaccination status (or present medical contraindication certificate which exempts them from being vaccinated) before entering the premises.

In situations where you may need to visit a resident at end of life please contact the Residential Service Manager to arrange this.

All visitors must wear face masks and will undergo screening prior to entry and may be turned away if they do not meet the conditions set down for entry. Visits must take place in resident’s room.

Resident Outings

Residents are permitted to go on outings to attend small family gatherings but must abide by the current COVID-19 Safety – gathering and movement restrictions set down by NSW Health.

They must not go into any location where a person may be awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test or is in isolation as a result of contracting COVID-19.

Obtaining Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

In line with the requirement for proof of vaccination, you can obtain this by signing into the Medicare website or by contacting the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 to arrange for a copy to be emailed or posted to you.

We appreciate any support families can give in helping residents with this process.

We are now entering a new phase of managing the risk around COVID and very much appreciate any help you can give in helping us stay vigilant by following COVID safe practices to protect everyone within our services.

Please talk to your Residential Service manager if you have questions or concerns.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker 

General Manager, Care and Community Services

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

With the Stay-At-Home order lifted for the Port Macquarie-Hastings Local Government Area (LGA) on 5 October 2021 by NSW Health, I am pleased to provide this update on visitor and outing arrangements for our Residential Care Services.

Visits
Two visitors per day per resident are permitted, provided the visitor has not been to any area under ‘stay at home’ restrictions in the last 14 days.
All visitors must wear face masks and will undergo screening prior to entry, per the current NSW Health orders, and may be turned away if they do not meet the conditions set down for entry.
Visits must take place in resident’s room.

Outings
Residents are permitted to go on outings to attend small family gatherings but must abide by the current COVID-19 Safety – gathering and movement restrictions set down by NSW Health.

They must not go into any location that is currently under a ‘stay at home’ order (including areas where a person may be awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test or has visited an area under a ‘stay at home’ order and is in isolation as a result).

COVID vaccination is not mandatory as this stage, however, visitors are strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated prior to entering our services to visit their loved one.

If the Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA goes back to Stay-At-Home Orders at any time, our Residential Aged Care Services will, of course, follow suit.

Thanks again for your support in helping us manage the COVID guidelines within our services.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to call your facility manager and team.

Take care and stay safe.

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care and Community Services

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

As you will be aware, NSW Health announced that Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA was placed under Stay-At-Home orders from 6pm 28 September 2021 by NSW Health.

The purpose of this letter is to advise you that during this period we will continue providing essential services for our clients/participants in the community.

Please be assured that, as we deliver our services to you, we are following the NSW Health COIVD safe guidelines such as the wearing of appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

Our first priority is do everything we can to minimize the risk to our residential and community- based clients/participants, we have a strict screening process for all staff and clients. Any staff member who is unwell must stay home.

Any client/participant or staff member, who presents with virus-like symptoms, is requested to have testing carried out.  Staff members are not permitted to return to duties until they have been cleared with a negative test.

By working together and doing all we can to prevent the spread of the virus, we show our love, respect and care for each other’s health and safety.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to call your facility manager and team.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker 

General Manager, Care and Community Services 

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

NSW Health announced this afternoon that Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA has been placed under Stay-At-Home orders from 6pm today 28 September 2021 by NSW Health.

Per the NSW Health advice for Residential Aged Care Services, this Stay-At-Home order requires us to exclude all visitors except those providing essential caring functions and end of life visits. Any visits requested under these criteria are to be arranged by phone and approved by the facility manager.

Under this order, residents may go for a walk provided :

  • they remain within 1km of the facility and do not interact with other people outside of the facility
  • they wear a facemask or carry written evidence saying they have a condition which prohibits them from wearing a facemask
  • a risk assessment is undertaken to determine if the exercise can be undertaken safely.

Other than that, residents should not leave the facility except for essential reasons such as medical appointments.

Thank you so much for your continued patience and cooperation in helping us follow the latest stay-at-home guidelines – please know our desire to keep you safe is our priority in these situations.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to call your facility manager and team.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker

General Manager, Care and Community Services 

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

Today NSW Health released an update on COVID-19 restrictions for visits to, and outings from, residential aged care services in areas which were released from Lockdown on the weekend.

Visits
Two visitors per day per resident are permitted, provided the visitor has not been to any area under ‘stay at home’ restrictions in the last 14 days.
All visitors must wear face masks and will undergo screening prior to entry, per the current NSW Health orders, and may be turned away if they do not meet the conditions set down for entry. Visits must take place in resident’s room.

Outings
Residents are permitted to go on outings to attend small family gatherings but must abide by the current COVID-19 Safety – gathering and movement restrictions set down by NSW Health. They must not go into any location that is currently under a ‘stay at home’ order (including areas where a person may be awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test or has visited an area under a ‘stay at home’ order and is in isolation as a result).

For information
Please note, also, all workers employed at our residential aged care services (or contracted to provide services for one or more residents) will be required to have had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination from 9am on 17 September 2021, per NSW Health Orders.

While, thankfully, there are still no reported COVID-19 cases in our local community and the number people vaccinated is increasing, we ask for your continued support and vigilance in following NSW Health advice regarding hand hygiene, physical distancing, wearing masks and other guidelines.
We all have a role to play in keeping our residents, staff and community stay safe.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to call your Residential Aged Care Service Manager and team.

Kind regards,

Bronwyn Chalker 

General Manager, Care & Community Services

Here is an update our preparation and planning in the event of a positive COVID19 case our Residential Care Services.

Since early last year we have been prepared for a potential COVID 19 case in our  Residential Care services. In the early months of 2020, there was a high focus on educating staff and refreshing infection control practices.  We are now at a stage where almost all residents and approximately 70% of staff are vaccinated for the virus.  The government has mandated that all staff must be vaccinated (with at least the first dose) by 17 September 2021. While vaccination does not guarantee the virus will not be transmitted, people generally do not become as sick if they contract COVID19 after vaccination.

Last Friday we became aware there were COVID19 exposure sites due to positive cases visiting Port Macquarie.  Should we be advised there is staff member or a resident that has become a close contact, or is in fact positive to the virus, we will take immediate measures. This will include isolating all residents to their rooms as a precautionary measure while we review the contact risk and commence testing of all relevant people and areas.  We will be doing this in conjunction with advice from the Mid North Coast Local Public Health Unit.

The Residential Aged Care Facility lockdown order from the NSW Government has been extended until further notice. This means we must continue to exclude all visitors except those providing essential caring functions and end of life visits. Any visits requested under these criteria need to be arranged by phone and approved by the facility manager.

Residents are not able to come and go from the facility at this time except for essential reasons such as medical appointments.

Our staff are wonderful and dedicated people and like all aged care services we are doing our best to ensure the health and safety of our residents.

Dear Residents and Families,

We are closely monitoring and responding to the advice from NSW Health with regard to COVID-19. As advised in the media the Greater Sydney Area is now in a two week stay at home order and there are particular requirements for NSW regional areas, as well as requirements for Residential Aged Care Services.

From Tuesday June 29th, the following will apply to our Residential Aged Care services:

  • Visits will need to be booked
  • Visits will be between 10am and 4pm weekdays and 10am and 3pm on weekends
  • Visits can be any duration but must be confined to the resident room, or an allocated outdoor space
  • All visitors must wear masks for the duration on the visit (including and very importantly in the resident room)
  • Visitors are to enter and exit our services through one entry point and to use our hand sanitising stations.
  • 2 visitors per resident only per day
  • Children under 16 years are permitted but must be supervised at all times.
  • Visitors must sign in and undertake screening, which will include:
    • Name, Address and contact number
    • Temperature screening
    • 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 or in a hot spot for the last 14 days
    • Confirmation visitors have no COVID-19 or influenza-like symptoms
    • Evidence of Influenza vaccination

Thankyou everyone for the efforts to continue to keep our resident, staff and the community safe.

Kind Regards,

Bronwyn Chalker
General Manager
St Agnes’ Care and Community Services

Dear Residents and Families,

UPDATE ON CHRISTMAS VISITS

Further to my previous letter (dated 21 December) I am pleased to share with you the latest advice received from NSW Health regarding visiting Residential Aged Care Services (effective Thursday 24 December, 2020) and the guidelines St Agnes’ Care and Lifestyle is putting in place to meet these requirements to keep residents and staff safe through the festive season.

NSW Health advises there are no restrictions on weather people from regional NSW can visit residents living in regional Aged Care facilities. There are, however, some conditions (outlined below) we must all adhere to ensure we maintain COVID safe practices.

Visits:

  • may take place between 10am-4pm weekdays and 10am-3pm on weekends and Public Holidays
  • must be conducted in a designated area or in the resident’s room. Visits cannot be in communal areas. There is no restriction on the length of the visits.

Visitors must:

  • enter and exit our services through one entry point
  • sign in before entering and undertake screening, which will include:
    • Name, Address and contact number/ QR Code
    • Temperature screening
    • 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 or in a hot spot for the last 14 days
    • Confirmation visitors have no COVID-19 or influenza-like symptoms
  • use hand sanitising stations on entry.
  • follow physical distancing guidelines during visits.
  • always supervise children under 16 years of age.

Please note:

  • a maximum of two visitors from Greater Sydney (excluding those from the Northern Beaches local government area or any hotspots identified hotspots on the NSW Health website Beaches LGA) are permitted to visit residents in residential aged care facilities in regional NSW.

NSW Health has asked that ‘if visits can be delayed and a later festive gathering organised’ that we encourage you to do so.

If residents are leaving the facility to visit friends and relatives a risk assessment screening will be undertaken by staff, regarding the place to be visited and the people who will be present, as a further precautionary measure.

All the best for a wonderful Festive Season.

Kind Regards

Bronwyn Chalker
General Manager, Care & Community Services
St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle

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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