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Ryman Healthcare Coronavirus (COVID-19) update | 16 March 2020

Written by David King
on March 16, 2020

We are introducing new measures at all our villages to guard against the spread of COVID-19 including restricting non-essential visits and suspending communal activities.

We know that older people are the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, and it is critical that we keep everyone safe during this emergency in Victoria.

We want to make sure our villages are safe havens for our residents.

The new measures include:

  • We ask that all non-essential visits to village residents are put on hold
  • All visits to care centre residents by children are put on hold
  • All group activities within the villages – including happy hours and Triple A exercise classes – are suspended
  • All sporting and community events, including bowls and club meetings, are suspended
  • We are adding a security check-in at our village gates, in addition to the reception check. All visitors will be required to check in at the gates and reception, including having temperature checks

We know these measures may be isolating for some residents. While they may cause a degree of disruption, we think it is the right thing to do in the face of this pandemic.

We will support our residents and their families in any way we can to help them remain as independent as possible and keep in touch during this time.

Why do we need to do this?

We have seen the impact on older people and the health systems overseas once COVID-19 takes hold. We have had strict infection safeguards in place so far, and we were pleased to see the Government’s new border measures come into force and that a State of Emergency was declared. We think restricting visits and communal activities will help keep COVID-19 out.

Our best defence remains:

  • Staying away from our villages if you are unwell or need to be in self-isolation.
    Monday 16 March
  • Practising good hand hygiene – that is, washing hands regularly with soap and water, and cleansing with hand sanitiser.
  • Coughing or sneezing into tissues or elbows.
  • Avoiding shaking hands or unnecessary contact.
  • Practising social distancing – staying at least 1.5m away is safest.

We have had restrictive measures in place for some time, and these extra measures are designed to keep us all safe.

Questions and answers:

What do you consider an essential visit?
Visits to residents who are extremely frail, in distress or in palliative care are essential. These visits are welcomed as long as you check in and take a temperature test.

Can my grandchildren visit?
We would prefer that visits from children are restricted for the next few weeks. This is because overseas research shows that while children may not be affected by the virus, they are likely to spread it. Exceptions may be made for residents in palliative care.

What about your team members?
Our team members are having daily temperature checks and only coming to work if they, and their families, are well. They are fully trained in infection control measures and are being isolated if they are unwell or have returned from overseas. We need them to stay well, and we are doing our best to ensure their wellbeing during this
emergency.

There are only a few cases in Australia, aren’t you overreacting?
There is a State of Emergency in place in Victoria and there is a strong risk of community transmission. We know the virus poses a serious risk, and we will do everything we can to keep everyone safe.

Can independent or serviced apartment residents visit the doctor or go to medical appointments?
Yes. You should do everything you need to stay healthy. Please let us know if you need help to get to these.

Can I visit or help other residents?
We think it is best to restrict visits for now. If you do meet other residents, practise social distancing – keeping 1.5m apart. We know you already have strong community networks, so the best way to help is to call your friends and neighbours on the phone to check on them.

Thanks!

We know that these changes will impact your lives. But we want you to know that we are here to help, and we have a number of initiatives on the way to help you through.

We cannot over emphasise that we need community cooperation to keep everyone safe during this emergency.

We will keep you updated in the coming days. Please do not hesitate to contact your village manager or the team if you need help.

For more information you can access these websites online:

Australian Department of Health website:
https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov#information-for-the-public

For queries contact 1800 288 299 or email humanresources@rymanhealthcare.co.nz

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