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Ryman Healthcare Coronavirus (COVID-19) update | 18 March 2020

Written by David King
on March 18, 2020

We are introducing extra restrictions on visiting at our Weary Dunlop and Nellie Melba villages to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

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

The new measures include:

  • We ask that all non-essential visits to village residents are put on hold.
  • Visiting hours for the care centre are restricted to 11am-1pm and 6pm-8pm.
  • Essential visits are where your loved one is unwell, and/or not visiting will cause distress to them or to you.
  • Non-essential visits are where you can easily postpone or get in touch by phone. The fewer visitors we get, the smaller the chance of COVID-19 infection.
  • All visits to care centre residents by children under 16 years are put on hold.
  • Visits to care centre residents are limited to two people one time a day, and the visits should be of short duration.
  • Visits are limited to a resident’s room or outdoors, but not in communal areas.
  • All group activities and social events within the villages – including happy hours and Triple A exercise classes – are suspended. There will be no activities calendar for the moment.
  • All sporting and community events, including bowls and club meetings, are suspended.
  • All essential visitors must check in at the gates and reception.

 
Why do we need to do this?

We have introduced these measures in line with Government announcements.

There are now 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, and we must do everything we can to guard against its spread.

Our best defence remains:

  • Staying away from our villages if you are unwell or need to be in self-isolation for 14 days because you have recently returned from overseas. If you have been unwell, you must be symptom-free for 48 hours before visiting.
  • If you live in a village, avoiding gathering in groups and person-to-person contact as much as possible.
  • 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 2m away is safest.

 
Please keep in touch – get on the phone!

We will do everything we can to help you keep in touch during this period. The best way to connect is by phone, and we are looking at any other ways we can to help people keep in touch.

So, for families – don’t be afraid to call your loved one to see how they are doing.

We will be providing additional services to keep everyone engaged.

Please remember that we are here to help, and your village manager and their team are there for you.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with them with any concerns you may have.

We have answered many questions since the changes were made and we thought it would be good to provide you with this Q&A for your information.

Resident questions:

I am an independent resident in my 80s, can I still shop and go to my volunteering commitments?
You are free to come and go as you choose, but we strongly suggest that you limit person-to-person contact and practice social distancing as recommended. Supermarket shopping is fine – it is easy to keep your distance. We would not recommend you continue with volunteering for the moment for your own safety. It is very important to practise good hygiene.

Are we in lock down?
We are not in lock down, but we have stopped large communal events, group activities and we have restricted visiting to essential visits only.

I have a doctor’s appointment next week – should I still go?
You should if you need to. We suggest you should ring your doctor, they might be able to help over the phone.

My son is my main support, he visits three times a week with my shopping. Can he continue to visit?
Yes. We would suggest he visits once a week and phones you at other times.

Can my grandchildren visit?
We would prefer that visits from children are restricted for the foreseeable future. This is because overseas research shows that while children may not be affected by the virus, they are likely to spread it, and they will want to give you a hug. The exception is if the person is very frail or in palliative care and the visit is essential to them.

A group of neighbours is still gathering for meetings, and I have politely declined. Should they still be meeting?
One of the best defences is avoiding person-to-person contact. If the meetings can be postponed for the moment, they should be.

What about your staff? Isn’t there a chance they could get infected?
Our staff are having temperature checks and only coming to work if they, and their families, are well. They are fully trained in infection control measures and they know how important it is to your health to stay away if they are in doubt. We need them to stay well, and we are doing our best to ensure their wellbeing during this emergency.

Will your staff be paid if they have to stay away?
Our staff will still be paid if they are unwell regardless of their entitlements.

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 2m 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.

Relative questions:

My mother has dementia and is in a special care unit, but she is well. Should I visit?
We’d recommend you ring your mum rather than visit if it is not essential that you see her right now. The best way to keep in touch is by phone.

My grandfather is very unwell, and we don’t have a crystal ball – we don’t know when we will see him again. Can we visit?
Yes. As long as you following our visitor recommendations regarding essential visits.

Can I deliver shopping to my mum who is an independent apartment or townhouse?
Yes, of course for essential items. You should follow all the other rules about hygiene, and do not visit if you are unwell.

Will I be able to visit someone who is frail or in palliative care?
Yes. These visits are welcomed as long as you check in and follow our visitor procedures.

My mum is independent and is getting visits from a district nurse. Can these continue?
Yes. The nurse must check in and sign in as part of the checking procedures for all essential visitors.

Thanks once again

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch.

We welcome any feedback on how things are going, and suggestions on how we can improve.

We cannot over emphasise that we need community cooperation to keep everyone safe, and we have had great support – so thanks.

We will keep you updated in the coming days. Once again, 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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