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Ryman Healthcare Coronavirus (COVID-19) update | 20 March 2020

Written by David King
on March 20, 2020

We wanted to get in touch ahead of the weekend to remind everyone about the measures in place to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

One of the best defences against the virus is to limit person-to-person contact, so we have introduced tight restrictions on visits to villages and suspended communal activities.

We are also concerned for the wellbeing of our residents during this period, and we are working on activities to keep them engaged and we have more on the way.

We’ve had strong support from our community for the restrictions, so thanks for your cooperation.

  • 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.
  • Can you let our reception know who the main visitor for each resident is, so we can record their names at reception.
  • 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 with appropriate social distancing.
  • 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 more than 120 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.

 
How to self-isolate
Residents who have returned from travelling overseas – including by air or by sea - since March 15 are required to self-isolate by the Government for 14 days.

We will do everything we can to support you and look after your wellbeing during this period – just let us know.

Self-isolation means staying away from situations where you could infect other people.

This means any situation where you may come in close contact with others (face-to-face contact closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes), such as shared meals or events with other residents, social gatherings, club meetings, movie screenings or church gatherings. For more information on self-isolation go to:

www.health.gov.au/covid19-resources
https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19#i-have-been-asked-to-self-isolate-what-does-this-mean

Ring, ring why don’t you give your loved one a call?

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 finding other ways to keep people in touch.

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

We are delivering weekly packs to keep our independent residents connected and engaged, and we are working on additional services to help.

For residents who are online, you can find wellness advice at www.rymanhealthcare.com.au/wellness

Please remember that we are here to help, so please do not hesitate to get in touch with your village team with any concerns you may have.

Thanks again to everyone for your help, support and feedback as we work through this.

We have included a Q&A, and a reminder about our strategy to fight COVID-19 below, along with links to helpful websites.
 
For queries contact 1800 288 299 (Australia) or email humanresources@rymanhealthcare.co.nz

Questions and answers:

Here’s a selection of commonly asked questions:

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.

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.

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.

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 are 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.

Ryman Healthcare’s COVID-19 plans:

Phase 1 (current phase): Keep it out: We are doing everything possible to keep any COVID-19 infections out of our villages, and we are in this phase right now. 

Phase 2: Stamp it out: This is where there are cases in the community, and we get a COVID-19 infection. We will use infection control measures to contain it and stamp it out as fast as possible to prevent further spread. This will involve quarantining the rooms or sections of the village where the infection is and isolating any residents who have had contact.

Phase 3: Manage it: If COVID-19 becomes widespread in the community and we have multiple infections in a village, we will move to a management phase, using our infection control measures to eradicate the virus and prevent further spread. This will involve quarantining entire villages.

Phase 4: Recovery: Lifting quarantine restrictions and helping people to recover.

Symptoms
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, a dry cough, and sometimes difficulty breathing. Symptoms are like a range of other illnesses such as influenza and does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. Difficulty in breathing is a possible sign of pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

How COVID-19 spreads

Transmission of COVID-19 is considered to occur primarily through respiratory droplets and secretions. The virus is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • direct contact with a person while they are infectious.
  • contact with droplets when a person with a confirmed infection coughs or sneezes.
  • touching objects or surfaces that were contaminated by droplets (like those from a cough or sneeze) from a person with a confirmed infection and then touching your mouth or face.

To stop the spread of COVID-19 we ask you to:

  • Practice good hand hygiene – that is, washing hands regularly with soap and water, and cleansing with hand sanitiser.
  • Cough or sneeze into tissues or elbows.

Avoid shaking hands or unnecessary contact.

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