With the increasing number of COVID cases in Sydney’s south west and western local government areas I felt it was important to provide you with a summary of the systems and processes we have in place to protect our residents.
- We review advice from NSW Health several times per day to make sure we are fully aware of any new areas/venues of concern, or any new health advice. This information is used to update any internal procedures or entry screening declarations, posters etc.
- All BCAC sites maintain a daily screening process for every person entering the facility and resident’s temperatures and wellbeing are confirmed every day
- We have detailed outbreak management plans in place which have been tested and reviewed. The latest review occurred within the past 2 weeks and we are constantly reinforcing the procedures to be followed in the event we receive a notification anyone in our care, or anyone who has been in our facilities, tests positive for COVID 19.
- Staff have access to support from senior managers in the organisation 24 hours each day. This is particularly important if after hours staff believe they may have been in an area that is on the NSW Health list of close or casual contacts.
- Personal protective equipment stocktakes occur daily at each village and orders are placed regularly to ensure stock levels remain high. The corporate office at Georges Hall has a significant additional stock of all PPE (masks, gowns, gloves etc) to support each village if an outbreak occurred
- Infection control training is reinforced ongoing through face to face training, videos, posters, competency assessments or formal education sessions
- Each village has an Infection Prevention & Control Lead (IPCL) who has completed a nationally accredited course in the last 12 months
- BCAC has close and frequent contact with the local Public Health Unit who are extremely supportive of aged care homes in the area
Following the COVID vaccination clinics held at each facility we have 80% of our residents fully vaccinated with two doses. The remaining 20% either declined or were deemed medically unsuitable at the time of the clinics. Additional clinics have been organised for next week (Monday 12, Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 July 2021) so that anyone who missed out, or who has changed their mind or who is a new admission can be vaccinated if they consent and if their doctor has confirmed this is appropriate.
Unfortunately, the clinics for staff vaccinations that were planned to be held on site at aged care facilities across Australia earlier this year were cancelled by the federal government. As a result, there have been long waiting times for staff wanting to be vaccinated by alternate methods. Currently we have 27% of our staff who have been able to access vaccination clinics in the past few months. A recent change in government position means that next week at each site staff can access the vaccine on the same day it is offered to residents. This is very encouraging and welcome news. By mid-September 2021 anyone who has not had one dose of the COVID vaccine will not be able to work in any aged care home in the country.
In the event of an outbreak how can you assist us?
We have carefully considered the possible scenarios that might arise during an outbreak and have developed communication plans to address each scenario.
We will communicate with families and residents in the FOLLOWING ORDER:
- The resident who tests positive will be isolated and their family will be notified via phone
- The residents and families of the wing/area close to the resident who tests positive will also be isolated and their families will be informed via phone
- Residents and families of non-affected areas of the facility will be notified via email. On the advice of the Public Health Unit, additional isolation protocols may also be initiated.
- The broader BCAC group (eg other BCAC facilities) will be notified via email
If you are the primary contact of one of our residents you can assist us by communicating with your broader family group and minimising the number of calls to our facilities. We will provide details of a dedicated email to which you can send any queries and they will be addressed by the team at BCAC as soon as possible.
The first 24 hours is critical to the successful implementation of our plan and we will ensure communication with families is timely so you know what is happening.
In the event of an outbreak, or suspected outbreak, we have the following strategies in place:
- A written agreement is in place with a nursing agency to replace any BCAC staff who may need to be isolated if they are deemed a close or casual contact. This is important as the recent outbreak in aged care facility in Baulkham Hills led to 75% of their staff having to spend time in isolation
- Should a significant agency workforce be required, we have developed videos for their orientation, and we also have the ability to provide additional oversight remotely using our software and technology. This means although the BCAC staff may be in isolation they could still provide direct support and guidance to the agency workforce. One example of this would be using technology to ensure a BCAC staff member attends the handover of each shift remotely. We have tablets, Ipads and computers which could be used for agency staff to remain connected throughout the shift with the team off site who know the residents.
- We have developed communication templates so we can issue communication to all residents and families in a timely manner. Please see below for how you can assist us in the event of an outbreak when it comes to communication
The Board of BCAC received a briefing on the COVID preparedness of the organisation from the management team on 7 July. The Board and management team are united in their commitment to protecting the residents from COVID 19, however in the event an outbreak does occur we have thoroughly prepared for this scenario.
We will keep you updated with any new information as it arises.
Thank you for your support and patience during these restrictions.