As the number of positive coronavirus cases linked to aged care facilities in Victoria hits double digits, a provider peak body flags the return to more stringent protection measures for aged care services in the state.
As of Thursday, Victoria has reported 12 positive cases of COVID-19 this week linked to 11 aged care facilities.
It includes a resident at the Glendale Aged Care facility in Werribee in Melbourne’s south-west.
The remainder include 11 staff members at 10 facilities although four workers did not work there infectious (see the full list below).
All of the facilities are in lockdown with and cleaning, contact tracing and appropriate testing underway, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said in statements this week.
The news comes as aged care minister Richard Colbeck wrote to aged care providers this week thanking them for their response to COVID while warning to be become complacent (read more here).
Provider peak Aged and Community Services Australia said the escalating situation in Victoria may necessitate a return to more stringent protection measures for Victoria’s residential and home aged care services.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, the situation in Victoria creates a greater risk for aged care residents, clients and staff, said ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow.
“We are warning that increased protection measures around visitation are likely to be necessary in the coming weeks.
“Everyone knew that as general restrictions in the community were lifted this would increase the risk of clusters and outbreaks and that’s exactly what has happened,” Ms Sparrow said.
She said no one could afford to get blasé about aged care because older people were one of the most vulnerable groups for COVID19.
Getting the balance right
At the top of providers’ minds is the need to balance prevention of outbreaks with mental health, emotional and spiritual care and compassion, Ms Sparrow said.
“[G]etting the balance right is very difficult and that’s why we have an agreed visitor access code for residential care,” she said.
The visitor code, which was launched in May, was updated a week ago to include the latest advice from health authorities.
That advice includes the relaxing of restrictions for children and spouses as well as the need for stricter visitor restrictions when an outbreak is identified in the community near a facility (see more here).
Providers also need to ensure they are equipped to manage the risk COVID-19 presents but are yet to see a full response from the government on the measures required to see them through the pandemic, Ms Sparrow said.
“There are increased costs to providers for things like PPE, additional staff and leave which are immense and putting extreme pressure on non-profit providers, a majority of which are running at a deficit.”
Victorian cases linked to aged care
Facilities with positive cases among staff include:
- Menarock Life Aged Care in Essendon (two staff members)
- BaptCare The Orchards Community in Doncaster
- Benetas St George’s in Altona Meadows
- BlueCross Ivanhoe
- Doutta Galla, Lynch’s Bridge site in Kensington
- Uniting AgeWell facility in Preston.
Facilities with positive cases among staff who worked while not infectious:
- Aurrum Aged Care facility in Healesville
- Holmwood Aged Care facility in Healesville
- BaptCare Karana in Kew
- Assisi Aged Care facility in Rosanna.
There was also a positive case among a person providing home aged care services through Mercy Health.
Access the updated industry visitor code here.