October 4, 2021
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Elderly care facilities across Australia will be open to visitors under a plan approved by the National Cabinet.
The Australian Senior Health Protection Committee (AHPPC) has set out principles to remove restrictions on visits to residential care facilities for the elderly.
Health and Elderly Care Minister Greg Hunt and Minister for Aged Australians and Elderly Care Services Richard Colbeck welcomed the endorsement of the principles, saying he acted as an important opportunity to reduce the impacts of social isolation in health facilities.
“Seniors caregivers have a responsibility to support the well-being of their residents and we know this can be improved through in-person visitors, be they family, friends, advocates. or people providing cultural or community support, ”said Minister Hunt.
“Seniors in residential care should be able to take advantage of reduced restrictions and participate in activities outside of facilities such as outdoor exercises and visits with friends and family.
“We encourage states and territories to implement these principles through their public health orders, following a similar easing of visitor restrictions in New South Wales.”
Two fully vaccinated visitors at a time will be welcomed for each resident across the state starting October 11.
Under the guidance of the National Cabinet, the AHPPC strongly encourages all visitors from other states and territories to receive both jabs before considering visiting a loved one.
A switch to compulsory vaccination for visitors could be considered later.
While the AHPPC recognizes that reopening visits may increase the risk of COVID-19 cases in facilities, it says decisions to limit visits must be proportionate and take into account the impacts of social isolation on health and the well-being of residents.
Access should only be restricted in accordance with best management practices if a facility is affected by an outbreak in the local area.
Minister Colbeck said the majority of providers have already shown leadership when it comes to implementing infection control plans.
“Providers and administrators of residential care for the elderly should carefully follow this advice and ensure that visitor access is carried out using appropriate COVID security precautions such as location registration, social distancing and the appropriate use of personal protective equipment, ”said Minister Colbeck.
In addition, AHPPC recommends that providers consider offering advice and training in infection prevention and control to regular visitors so that they can be informed of the precautions used in RACF.
Work to update visitation guidelines will also be undertaken, including updates to the industry code for visiting senior care homes during COVID-19 and national visitation guidelines. for the elderly.
Jurisdiction-specific plans will also consider elder care visits as part of a larger strategy to determine when community immunization goals are met.
Minister Colbeck said the increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates in the community meant that the risk for seniors of serious illness or death was reduced.
“It is important to note that as of October 1, 86.5% of residents and 83.8% of residential care workers were fully immunized,” said Minister Colbeck.
“Where restrictions have been reduced, I urge residential care providers for the elderly to take all necessary measures to support visitors, such as screening visitors at the entrance, encouraging the use of masks and monitoring the use of common spaces to support social distancing. ”
AHPPC advice on tours can be found here.
Providers can access elder care visit guidelines here.
The industry code for visiting senior care homes during COVID-19 can be found here.