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Ryman wins award for COVID-19 response

Written by Margot Taylor
on July 29, 2021

Ryman Healthcare’s response to COVID-19 was today recognised by experts at the Leading Age Services Excellence in Age Services Awards.

The retirement living and aged care provider’s COVID-19 Incident Management Team (IMT) won the ‘Team’ category for Victoria and Tasmania at the awards, which were held on Aged Care Employee Day.

The win recognises Ryman’s success in both keeping the virus out of its five Victorian villages, and its creation of a ‘COVID-19 Go-Kit’, which can be used as a blueprint for pandemic preparedness by other aged care providers.

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In January 2020 Ryman Healthcare formed the IMT and started preparing for its villages to become safe havens from the virus.

With staff at villages across Victoria furloughed because of COVID-19, the IMT was conscious they couldn’t be certain who would lead Ryman’s emergency response if there was an outbreak.

The ‘Go-Kit’, which included a detailed hour-by-hour outbreak response plan, was formed so all Ryman staff – or, if they were stood down, external staff – could enact the plan.

Other measures introduced by the IMT included inviting staff who were at risk of catching the virus, because they lived with other healthcare workers, to move into their village. More than 30 staff moved in for more than three months.

The IMT also developed a contact tracing tool which determined staff and resident interactions and updated eight times a day.

Ryman Healthcare Victorian Operations Manager Paul Sutton, who led the team, said the award was a wonderful recognition for the frontline staff who went to extraordinary lengths to keep the virus out of Ryman’s villages.

“While the award was presented to the Incident Management Team, it really belongs to our amazing staff members who were on the ground in our villages.

“Every day for months and months they went above and beyond to keep the virus out and protect the residents they care for.

“The fact that dozens of them were prepared to go as far as moving into their village to keep their residents safe tells you everything you need to know about what kind of people they are.”

Mr Sutton said while the company was thrilled to win the award, the fight to keep COVID-19 out of its villages was far from over.

“The virus doesn’t care about awards, so we know we can’t let our guard down for a second.”

Ryman Healthcare Victorian Quality Operations Manager Joanne Wang, who was a member of the IMT, was named ‘Next Gen Young Leader’ for Victoria and Tasmania at the awards.

The award honours an individual under the age of 40 who has demonstrated excellence through their significant contribution, initiative, and dedication in the delivery of aged care and services.

Joanne has worked for the company for more than five years, and said she was “surprised and incredibly humbled” by the recognition.

“I feel very lucky and incredibly humbled to be acknowledged by the experts of Australian aged care,” she said.

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