Residential aged care facilities will be required to increase restrictions on visitors for the next six months as the government ramps up measures to control the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday that visits will have to be short and limited to a maximum of two people at one time during the day.

Only family and close friends or professional service workers will be allowed into the centre and visits must take place in a resident’s room, outside, or  in an area designated by the facility.

Visitors and staff who have returned from overseas in the last 14 days, who have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, have symptoms of fever or respiratory infection or who haven’t been vaccinated against the flu after May 1 will be banned.

Group visits, school groups and gatherings including social visits or entertainment have also been ruled out.

Children under 16 years will only be able to visit “by exception”.

“It’s about protecting the residents at the end of the day,” the prime minister told a media conference in Canberra.

 

Scott Morrison addresses a press conference in Canberra on March 18 2020.

 

End of life situations

Mr Morrison said individual aged care facilities will have the discretion to put in place “very strict arrangements” so people can visit loved ones who are at the end of their lives.

“Those rules will have to be done on a facility by facility basis and need to confirm with general principals around social distancing,” he said.

“We all know how distressing those situations can be, so the aged care facilities will be asked to put in place sensible arrangements to facilitate those type of visits on a compassionate basis.”

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said while the nation would need to protect it’s aged population for “the long haul, for six months”, older Australians should not be denied access to family members.

“But we’ve got to make sure those interactions are safe, very limited and with good social distancing,” Professor Murphy said.

A balancing act

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO Pat Sparrow said ACSA would take the advice of health authorities and acknowledged there was clearly a need to take stronger measures.

Patricia Sparrow

However she said ACSA was also mindful of the need to balance prevention with compassion and emotional care.

“Mental and spiritual health is just as important and providers know better than anyone that getting that balance right is difficult but important,” Ms Sparrow said.

“We wouldn’t be taking these measures unless they were absolutely necessary, and providers will be doing everything they can to enforce them.”

Ms Sparrow said ACSA was continuing to work with the government on issues that still needed attention including the supply of protective equipment.

Leading Age Services Australia also endorsed the new restrictions.

“The sector sees today’s announcement by the Prime Minister as a logical and essential escalation of the protections aged care providers have already put in place,” CEO Sean Rooney said.

Meanwhile, CheckedIn Care said on Wednesday it had re-configured it Connect App platform to enable a COVID-19 App to be made available to Australian Aged Care Providers free of charge.

The App provides access to information, notifications and updates, connectivity with familes and access to GPs and medical experts.

More information about the COVID-19 App is available via this email.

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25 Comments

  1. I am devastated as the aged care my Mum is has refused any access by anyone since last Friday – no family, hairdresser, podiatrist, or doctors
    I think they shouldn’t be allowed to have even stricter requirements than those outlined by the health department . My mother just lost her husband after 64 years of marriage – and I just lost my Dad, now they have taken away my Mum too.

  2. Is the restrictions to aged care visits 2 visitors at one time OR per day? We have a resident who can have between 4-7 visits per day from friends and family and 1 of them come straight from the gym.

  3. Given that aged care homes are now deciding to not allow any residents visitors at all, which they may say is their risk assessment, but that assessment goes against the highest advice/risk assessment we have in this country (the Government & its chief medial officer). Can you advise me that if something (or anything) happens to my mother whilst I am not allowed in to care for her what will be my legal avenues of compensation for the aged providers alleged negligence

  4. Morrison says professional service workers are still entitled to enter.
    I own a community aged care service, because of my Mothers dementia, the facility cant meet her needs with respect to physio exercises.
    I pay my staff to go in twice daily for physio, hydration, stimulation and socialisation. Facility has put a stop to all this, including any activities for residents. I fail to see how that can be in the best interest of the resident.
    No facility can manage their own staff in regard to knowing who they have come in contact with, going from room to room, yet my 2 staff go to one room only and actually take the resident outside. I cant see how these 2 service workers can inflict a higher risk than their own staff.
    We live in an area where there is 1 confirmed case only. Been in self isolation immediately.
    The unnecessary panic is frustrating.

  5. And here’s why we need such draconian measures….me, me, me, me, me.
    But what about….me?

    Seriously folks, stop individualising your (relatively) minor inconveniences and take a broader view.

    Ignorant providers who implement knee-jerk policies in misguided attempts to show they’re doing something (anything) only add to the problem.

    Checking staff temperatures at start of shift? Unless you continue to monitor them regularly throughout the day, what’s the point? (hourly? every 5 minutes? continuous?)

    Logic and rational behaviour please.

    Our focus must be on effective, evidence-based actions and not just doing things you think will impress the ACQSC

  6. I have just heard from two extremely distressed partners of residents in a Southern Cross Care facility that they are not allowed visit at all – total lock down. No warning, no opportunity to visit their loved ones to explain what is happening and no exceptions. Whilst they are fully aware of the need to protect the vulnerable this is over and above the guidelines the government health authorities have deemed necessary. In the case of these two residents their wives have visited almost daily and provided care support for the past 15 months and this seems overly harsh.What options and recourse might they have to at least be able to visit their husbands and explain what is happening? It is simply cruel, unnecessary and in excess of what the Chief Medical Officers and Health experts have recommended.

  7. Baptistcare have stopped all visitors and this is very distressing. How are they allowed to do this? Why arent they following the recommendations?

  8. OUR ELDERS are not criminals and ought not to be LOCKED away without visiting rights for those who love and care for them and who also observe and watch over the care provided for them.Sometimes it is their family or friends who can observe a medical issue that may require attention before the health care workers employed in the facilities,the facilities are deregulated regarding ratios of carers to residents,the carers are not nurses and when the nurse incharge of the carers may be made aware of issues,they often appear to have little expertize and experience in their field.Residents need outside eyes and hearts to aid in their wellbeing and their emotional care,residents also may need to see that their loved ones are ok in this stressful time also.Isolation is also a well documented form of toture.National Guidelines ought to be followed rather than draconian authoritarian ageist dictims.

  9. Cruel to the aged population …….
    So my mother coming up for her non event 80th birthday 😢 doesn’t understand why she cannot see my dad everyday after 62yrs together and she is reliant on him to be her advocate for her medication to be given on time ! She feels like she has been punished and isn’t allowed to see any of her family and has no real friends in the aged care home as 98% have dementia!

    And then they have forgotten about the loved one at home lonely all by themselves and depressed and feeling guilty for putting their husband/wife into care so not eating properly either and no one to care for them!
    My father 87 pointed out to me where he lives no neighbours have checked on him because most are holiday homes and 9 were empty this week!

    So think about both sides of this situation

  10. I would like to know why Aged Care Facilities are still allowed to take new residents. This is totally putting staff and residents at risk.

  11. I know a man who has been married for 62 years, he visits his wife every day at a nursing home, now he cant, and his wife is fretting and he is worried, he said ” I may never see her again” so so sad and so so unnecessary. This total shutdown is ridiculous. I live in a small country town where we have no incidence of this virus, and believe me if there was the whole community would know.

  12. Our Mum is in aged care and we wanted to go to visit her by her staying inside the facility and us being on the other side of a glass door on the outside of the facility, and us speaking to her on the phone so she could at least see us, but we were told that was not allowed, it is very sad for our Mum as she has early dementia and is finding it very hard to comprehend what is going on, she just thinks her family don’t visit her anymore. I don’t see the risk to anyone if we were on the outside of the facility and she was on the inside. It is very sad

  13. OMG people you would be the first to complain if your loved one caught COVID19 in the facility they live in because the facility was lax in their protection of your Mum or Dad, do you think that facilities enjoy enforcing these restrictions the poor staff that have to put up with verbal abuse because they are trying to do the right thing by your parents!! and also keep going to work to look after them when they have their own families to consider as well. stop being so me orientated it affects everybody in the Country we live in

  14. i understand the lock out i am a vollinter in the nursing home and i am locked out my wife of 46 years i feed her 2 times a day now she does not know me having trouble sleeping i drive past the nursing home 5 times a day so i can be close to her they dont understand love

  15. Hi I think it is totally unjustified I cannot understand why aged care providers aren’t abiding by the guidelines set by the government and the health department. I would also be interested to find out if I managed to enter the facility my mother is locked away in would I be charged by the Police and fined and if so what would the charges be.

  16. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Hi
    I have been unable to see my mum since all this has happened. I am absolutely saddened that i cant see my own mum whom ive been visitng weekly for the past 16months. She has dementia and cant communicate with staff and i was always relied upon to asist in the care and management. She is the only parent i have left and for my children to miss out on seeing their nanna which she absolutly loved seeing ona regular basis. The rules have been far to harsh and not based on each individuals circumstances. i understand that they need to be protected but what i dont understand is that the deaths hav evome from staff members being at work and what is the differnce between staff entereing on a daily basis day in day out and having close contact with our loved ones. I just dont understand how this works? Now with some restrictions lifted slightly our Aged Care faciltiy still have harsh restictions in that only 1 visit per week and only between Monday and Friday in the mornigs and between 1-4.30pm which i work all week full time in the health industry. How is this fair to me to see my own mother who is being disadvantage by these restrictions yet staff continue to enter daily and have contact with her and others. They have also made it harder for all visitors in forcing all to have had the Flu Vaccine before entering the premises. How is this fair and taking away our choices in our health and our bodies. The flu vaccine will not prvent the COVID19 or anyone from getting ill. Best practice as said by the Government is to not enter the facility at all if unwell which is common sense. the Government has not made this mandatory across the nation so how is that this can be enforced in WA ???
    I am absolutely distraught that now i will not be able to see my mum for GOD knows how long . Noone can give me any clarification ive had sleepless nights not being able to visit her and now the uncertainty of when i can visit her again. How can this be happening to our loved ones when they need this constant contact to reassure them they are loved and cared for other than the facility. It is also affecting my children and my nephews and brother as for our mum we are her only children and familymin Australia and this not coming from any empathy or compassion from the facilites. Who screens staff on the weekends ? Who monitors the staff of their lives aoutside the homes? How is this reasonable in any way? what happens if my mum falls ill ? What happens i am unable to comfort her when she is unwell she has been my foundation all my life and now all this has been taken away from me being ther efor her and her seeing her family . She is 86 years old life is short and this is the most cruelist way of protecting our loved ones..
    I understand what can happen but so far the deaths have been cause dby staff not by visitors!!! This needs to reevaluate don individual case by case this not what the Government called for but fairness and compassion when puttin restictions in place !!!!!!!

  17. The people making the decisions about visitors in care homes seem to have neither the experience of ageing nor necessary qualifications- not a doctorate amongst them. In a democracy those affected by decisions should be consulted beforehand yet none were. As an almost 83 year old with diabetes and a heart condition, if I were faced with the choice between being cut off from family and friends or dying a bit sooner I know what I would choose! I hope I never have to go into one of these heartless establishments many of which do their best to make a lot of money for the owners. In the one place where there has been a problem of multiple deaths management didn’t train staff about the symptoms to look out for, either in themselves or the residents. So everyone has to suffer.

  18. The impact of lockdown on loved ones is undeniable. This law gives RACFs the authority to refuse entry and make no exceptions. A blanket rule is always easier than coming up with flexible and individual solutions. The results- weightloss (because they couldn’t feed themselves and their loved one usually does), wandering (because their loved one knows how to sooth them), isolation (they don”t need anything done to them at the moment so I’ll leave them alone even though activities are cancelled and their visitor can’t come) and decline (no visitors to complain and blame us!) The real and ongoing issue is that the bulk of aged care staff have neither the skills, understanding to confidently adjust their practice and practices like the overuse of gloves which limits handwashing will continue.

  19. My mother is in a regional care facility in the North of Victoria , the staff are the most wonderful people, and are just so caring towards my mother. My Mum is from WA where we lived for many years and i brought her here to be close to me , i visit twice a week and sometimes sing for the residents as i play guitar. She has dementia and as my Father and brother are both deceased i am her only living relative in this state. As from May 1st she will have no one visiting her at all, to say i am upset is an understatement. If i even think i have a cold i stay away from the facility, I visit her in her room and dont have contact with other clients. I have worked in Health for over 40yrs and used to get flu shots, however after much study i understand what i need to do to maintain a healthy immune system , and it doesn’t include flu shots. THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS, our bodies are the last thing we have sovereignty over , the Government under the guise of Healthcare are trying to take this freedom away from us.

  20. I’m not allowed on the premises to visit my 92 year old dad because I have not had the flu shot. I won’t be getting it because it makes me very ill. My dad is distressed. I am his only visitor. Will this stupidity end, or will this restriction be eased in the future ? This contravenes the Nuremberg Trials, which stated that NO ONE,should have a medical intervention forced upon them..Our rights are all being eroded.

  21. I am in the same boat as Anne Hattersley. My father is 97.5 and deteriorating rapidly at present. I must have a flu shot? Why? Temperatures are checked at the door, questions are asked about flu like symptoms. Hey, if you have even a hint of a flu 1. you wouldn’t visit your aged person 2. You would not get in through the door 3. The incidence of flu is way, way down this year because everything we do that controls corona virus, controls the flu! The Cochrane review (famous reliable reviewer of research) concerning the last flu vaccine concluded that the vaccine decreased the flu by 1.2 to 2 percent and stated that there was no evidence that it decreased hospitalisations or time off work- odds like that are pitiful as an argument for the positive. Am I cynical in thinking that the vaccine lobby has slipped one under the covid 19 rug? For those like myself who can have their peripheral neuropathy worsened as possible reaction to the vaccine – I just won’t be having it – it gave me an unnecessary trip to my GP for a medical certificate (he was surprised to know that the vaccine can aggravate neuropathies in some cases). All this BS makes it harder to visit an old man who lives for the visits my sister and I make. The medics and pollies have overstepped the boundary here using the fear of the corona virus to erode personal rights and choices.

  22. My wife is in a nursing home I’m allowed 2 visits a week for an hour why as she has no other visitors why can I not visit daily for the hours already allotted daily

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