Bupa Aged Care Australia to change visitor restrictions

24 April 2020

Written by: Gianni Francis

While Bupa might be relaxing their visiting restrictions, there are still strict disease spread prevention requirements that need to be met.

Bupa Aged Care facilities will allow limited visits after a four-week closure of facilities to visitors from Friday, 23 May 2020.

This is the same date that the Government’s mandatory flu vaccination rules come into effect, meaning only those who are vaccinated will be able to enter Bupa’s Aged care facilities.

Managing Director of Bupa Villages and Aged Care Australia Suzanne Dvorak said while the “outbreak has been suppressed earlier than anticipated”, elderly residents are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

“We are cautiously hopeful that we will continue to see a low rate of community transmission of COVID-19 so that we can maintain visits to our homes and further ease restrictions,” she said in a statement.

“Anyone with flu-like symptoms or anyone who has had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days will not be permitted to enter.”

Dvorak says multiple critical safety precautions must be maintained to minimise the risk of infection.

  • Visits will be allowed from 11:30am – 2:30pm.
  • All visitors must wear a mask and practice hand hygiene upon entry.
  • All visitors will have their temperature checked on entry, and anyone with a high temperature will not be permitted to enter.
  • Written evidence of flu vaccination will be required.
  • One visitor will be allowed per day for each resident, for 30 minutes.
  • No children (under 18 years) will be allowed.
  • Social distancing must be maintained (1.5 metres) and visits must take place in resident rooms or outdoors to maintain this – not in communal areas.

Mandatory Vaccinations

The DHHS says you won’t be admitted as a visitor, staff, or other worker to a Victorian residential aged care facility if you don’t have an up-to-date vaccination for influenza.

After 1 May 2020 you need this year’s vaccine but before 1 May 2020 you must have had the 2019 vaccine. The elderly are especially vulnerable to the transmission of COVID-19 and may be critically at-risk if exposed.

The Department of Health says the annual influenza (flu) vaccine for 2020 is particularly important this year because cases of flu can increase the burden on the health system as it faces COVID-19.

“While the flu vaccine cannot protect against COVID-19, it is possible to become ill with both influenza and COVID-19, which has the potential to cause severe outcomes including hospitalisation,” the department said in a statement.

Direction from Deputy Chief Health Officer

State of Emergency was declared in Victoria on 16 March 2020 to manage coronavirus, providing the Chief Health Officer with additional powers to issue directions to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Chief Health Officer is restricting access to facilities where vulnerable Victorians live and receive care to protect elderly people.

Each resident can only have one visit of up-to-two visitors each day for no more than two hours. However, visitors providing end-of-life care to a resident are an exception.

Visitors must comply with all screening and infection control measures put in place by the facility and maintain social distancing.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen published directions replacing the Care facilities direction, previously the Aged Care facilities direction.

The directions restrict entry to all aged care facilities, coming into force at midnight on 13 April 2020. Visitors who don’t meet requirements and restrictions can get fine of up to $20,000, or up to $100,000 for companies.

A person is as a visitor to a care facility and must comply with the directions of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 if they are:

  • Visiting for a care and support visit to a resident
  • Providing end-of-life support
  • If the person is a looking to become a resident
  • If the person is accompanying a prospective resident

 

Photo: Anne by Oliver Gouldthorpe available here and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image was resized.