We are pleased to report that to date, all of our homes are safe and free from any cases of COVID-19.
Our highest priority has always been the safety of our residents. Premier Health Care is closely monitoring the situation in respect of COVID-19 and is implementing a variety of safeguards and measures to minimise any risk of an outbreak.
We will continue to closely monitor our homes and services to ensure we have comprehensive screening measures for all those that enter our homes, and the highest levels of infection control. We are following the advice of infectious diseases experts, and continuing guidelines disseminated by state and federal governments.
The interstate experience has shown that frequent and open communication is key to allaying any concerns or questions families have during this difficult time. We will continue to communicate with all of our residents, families and staff on an on-going basis to ensure that all parties are apprised of our circumstances and arrangements. Should you have any concerns, please feel free to contact us via our ‘contact us’ page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions to provide you with additional information on the current status of our arrangements to protect from COVID-19.
Are all Premier Health Care Staff vaccinated against COVID-19?
In accordance with the COVID-19 State Emergency Directions, it is mandatory for all Premier Health Care staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. No staff are permitted to work unless they have provided evidence to us of their vaccination status. There are some medical exemptions permitted under these rules. It is our policy that all Volunteers (whether engaged via the Community Visitors Scheme or otherwise) must also be vaccinated.
Does Premier Health Care have a vaccination policy for Residents?
Premier Health Care strongly encourages all Residents to have the COVID-19 Vaccination in accordance with current medical and Government advice. This is the best form of protection against the virus. All current residents have had, or have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
Any new residents entering a Premier Health Care home will need to show proof of vaccination of at least Dose 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine before admission. We can then arrange for Dose 2 to be administered once admitted.
Any current respite residents are expected to get Dose 1 of the COVID-19 Vaccine before converting to permanent, unless we are in receipt of a medical exemption from their GP.
Does Premier Health Care have a Vaccination Policy for Visitors?
Whilst COVID-19 vaccination is not currently mandatory, it is strongly encouraged that all Visitors are vaccinated against COVID-19. We anticipate that State Governments will soon mandate this rule, and therefore encourage all regular visitors to provide us with a copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate in advance.
Do I have to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza to enter one of your homes?
Yes. It is a requirement Australia-wide, that any person entering a residential aged care facility must show evidence of having the current seasonal influenza vaccination. You must provide evidence of this prior to entry.
Evidence may include a Medicare Immunisation Statement or a letter from your GP stating that you have received the vaccination. The only exception is where you provide evidence of a medical contraindication to the vaccine.
This direction also applies to any child over the age of six months.
SCREENING & MONITORING
Does Premier Health Care screen staff on a daily basis?
All staff are screened upon entry to the Facility at the commencement of each shift. This screening process involves temperature testing and answering a set of screening questions in respect of any signs of illness, overseas or interstate travel, or possible contact with a COVID-19 infected person, relating both to the staff member or a member of their household.
How does Premier Health Care screen Visitors and Contractors entering its homes?
All Visitors and Contractors are subject to similar screening measures to staff. Visitors and Contractors must have provided evidence of having the Seasonal Flu Vaccination. They are temperature tested upon entry to the Facility, and must answer a set of screening questions relating to travel / illness or possible exposure to a person with COVID-19 prior to entry. All persons are screened for attendance at any COVID-19 exposure location.
All visitors, staff and contractors must sign the requisite registers upon entry and check-in via the QR Code, for contact tracing purposes.
Can I visit a Premier Health Care home at present?
Yes, subject to meeting our screening questions upon entry.
- Visits may need to be pre-booked with our Admin Officer to ensure that the total number of visitors on-site at any time is capped, in order to adhere to social distancing requirements.
- You must meet our screening criteria, and provide your details in our Visitor Register and scan the QR Code;
- Our general visiting hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm and Saturday/Sunday 10am to 2pm.
- The number of visitors permitted per resident may be capped depending on the state emergency management directions in place at the time.
- Visits are limited to one hour in duration, in the resident’s own room; social distancing must be maintained.
- Special exemptions will be made for those attending for End-of-Life care visits or compassionate visits.
Do I need to wear a mask when I visit?
Generally speaking, masks are not required to be worn when visiting. However, from time-to-time Premier Health Care or the State Government may require staff and/or visitors to wear masks depending on the current risks in the community. For example, if there is community transmission of COVID-19, or hotspots in the state, mask-wearing may be mandatory. Please follow any signage or instructions from staff at the Facility in relation to mask-use.
Residents are not required to wear masks.
Does Premier Health Care have a policy on staff that work across multiple care facilities?
COVID-19 outbreaks across the country have shown that there is a greater risk of wider and faster spread of COVID-19 amongst staffing populations that work across multiple care facilities. In line with Emergency Management Directions in both SA and Qld, Premier Health Care aims to ensure, to the extent possible, that staff do not work across multiple homes. However, to ensure continuity of care 24/7, this may not always be possible.
Records of any secondary locations of employment for all employees, contractors and volunteers is stored for quick reference in the event of an outbreak and for contact tracing purposes. At the commencement of each shift, staff are required to disclose any secondary places of work that they have attended in the prior 14 days.
Can I take my family member for an outing?
Whether you can take a family member for an outing is dependent on the current Emergency Management Direction in your state. Generally speaking, there are no restrictions from taking family members for outings.
We would recommend not taking your family member to any place where they could be exposed to a person with COVID-19 or those who have not been vaccinated against the flu, and to avoid any crowded places.
Please provide a list of any locations visited once you check the Resident back into the home in our Resident Outing Register, and ensure QR Codes are being used at any public facility you are attending.
Can I have lunch or dinner with my loved one?
Yes. You can have lunch or dinner with your loved one, in their own room. Whilst ordinarily family members can attend lunch or dinner in the dining room, due to social distancing requirements, this must now take place in their own room.
TRAINING & EDUCATION
What training and education is Premier Health Care providing to staff to prevent and manage any Outbreak of COVID-19?
We have implemented a comprehensive training and education program to ensure our staff are in the best possible position to manage an outbreak. This program includes:
- Mandatory completion of all COVID-19 Government Training Modules;
- 1:1 training by an external Infection Control Consultant engaged by Premier Health Care in safe donning and doffing of PPE, handwashing and infection control;
- Internal education on symptom monitoring and identification of signs of COVID-19, additional infection control precautions and emergency management preparedness; and
- Running of on-site mock outbreaks.
What additional measures have Premier Health Care taken to prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19?
We have a COVID-19 Taskforce who is in contact each day in relation to current COVID-19 numbers, locations, and current advice being disseminated by the State and Federal Government. Some of our Prevention Management tools include:
- To the extent possible, the cohorting of staff to work in designated wings and areas, to prevent possible transmission between staff in different areas;
- Ensuring sufficient levels of PPE for all staff;
- Provision of reusable masks for staff, for use outside of the Facility;
- Additional cleaning and infection control measures implemented across nursing, catering, housekeeping and domestic departments.
Some of our Outbreak Management tools include:
- A tailored ‘First 24-Hours’ Checklist for each home with key steps broken down into 30-minute actions to guide staff in an effective and rapid response to a COVID-positive identification;
- An Outbreak Management Plan;
- Tailored Floor Plans and protocols for the cohorting and isolation of staff and residents, respectively, to protect from further spread;
- Engagement of an Infection Control Consultant and Infectious Diseases Specialist for further advice in the event of an outbreak.
Some Premier Health Care homes have previously been placed into ‘Preventative Lockdown’. What does this mean?
Daily cases, locations of potential outbreaks and COVID-19 hotspots are being monitored by our COVID-19 Taskforce on a daily basis. From time-to-time, the Department of Health releases alerts for particular locations they deem as ‘high-risk’ for COVID-19.
If there are cases of community transmission, or we consider that the locations of potential clusters may pose a risk to our home, we may enter into a phase of ‘Preventative Lockdown.’ This means that the home will be closed to non-essential personnel for a set number of days (subject to review) in order to assess the level of risk, and number and locations of cases in the community. During this time, there will always be exceptions made for entry on compassionate grounds, subject to any state-based laws.
What is PPE and do we have sufficient supply?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in this context generally refers to the use of medical-grade gloves, gowns, eye googles and masks. PPE will be used by our staff to care for residents who are suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19. In the event of an outbreak, sufficient supplies of PPE are critical to ensuring the safety of our workforce. We are continually monitoring our stock of PPE to ensure we have sufficient supplies and back-up stock for each of our homes.
Will we be notified if there is a positive case of COVID-19 amongst residents or staff?
Yes. If there is a positive case of COVID-19 in any of our residents or staff, we will notify all representatives at the earliest opportunity and seek immediate testing of all residents and staff. This will trigger implementation of our COVID-19 Outbreak Management Plan and 24-hour Response Plan.
What happens in the first 24 hours following a positive identification of COVID-19 in a resident?
As soon as a positive case is identified, that resident will be isolated from other residents, and a team of staff allocated for only that resident’s care.
The resident’s family and GP will immediately be contacted, and we will seek immediate transfer of that resident to hospital.
In accordance with our Outbreak Management Plan, the home will be placed into immediate lockdown, with entry permitted to essential personnel only. All residents will remain in their own rooms and any outings or group activities will temporarily cease.
Notifications will be made to the Public Health Unit and Department of Health who will undergo contact tracing and assist with testing of all residents and staff, to assess and monitor for any further cases.
Our Infection Control Lead will work with the Public Health Unit’s First Responder on-site to ensure the highest levels of infection control.
All families will be contacted and apprised of steps being taken to manage the outbreak.
If my loved one is diagnosed with COVID-19, will they be sent to hospital?
In SA and Qld, there are Government protocols in place to immediately transfer any COVID-positive resident to hospital.
We will be requesting transfer to hospital to ensure acute care is provided for the resident, and to safeguard other residents in the home against potential spread.
If there is a positive case of COVID-19 in one of your homes, can I take my loved one out?
Yes. The Federal Government has now enacted emergency leave provisions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that Permanent Residents can take temporary leave from their aged care home without losing their place.
How will Premier Health Care communicate with families during the event of an outbreak?
The Victorian Aged Care experience has shown that frequent communication with families during the days following an outbreak is a challenging task with approximately 1,000 to 2,000 calls being received by homes each day.
A letter will be sent to all families on the day that a positive case is identified. A point of communication on-site, and from our Quality Team (off-site) will then be provided as the two central points of contact. We will endeavour to contact each of our families to provide them with an update in relation to their loved one within a 12-hour period and aim to contact each representative daily thereafter.
All communications will be published on our website – https://www.premierhealthcare.com.au/latest-covid-update/
A dedicated email address for any enquiries from families will also be provided.
Who will be contacted for each Resident, in the event of an outbreak?
Our letters will be sent to each email address we have on file for a particular resident. If you wish to have your email address added to our ‘contact list’ please provide your email address to the Admin Officer at your Facility.
Phone calls will be made to one contact only. This will be the family member or friend who has been designated as the ‘Care Representative’ for that Resident. This will usually be the Resident’s Next of Kin.
How do I update my contact details in your system?
If your contact details have changed or you wish to subscribe to our updates, please provide your updated contact details to the Admin Officer at your Facility. Alternatively, send an email to email@example.com
Can I do a ‘Virtual Visit’ to the home?
Of course! We encourage Virtual Visits with loved ones. Residents are encouraged to have their own telephones so that family members don’t experience wait times if wishing to call.
If your loved one does not have their own phone, or needs assistance in using one, our Lifestyle Officers can help. We can also set up Facetime / Zoom / Skype sessions with your loved ones.
Virtual Visits and Window Visits will still be available during the event of an outbreak.
Is there anything families can do to assist?
These are difficult times and as Aged Care Providers we understand the anxiety and fears that families have about COVID-19 entering one of our homes. We ask for understanding and cooperation in adhering to our protocols and policies aimed to safeguard our residents and staff.
In particular we ask that:
- You are vaccinated against COVID-19 at the earlier opportunity and provide us with your Vaccine Certificate.
- You do not visit the Facility if you are unwell, or if you or a member of your household has been overseas, or in a COVID-19 hotspot or exposure location in the past 14 days;
- You do not visit the Facility if you have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting a result;
- You adhere to social distancing within the home, and visit the resident you are there to see in their own room;
- You follow the Government’s rules relating to social gatherings;
- You always check in via the Visitor Register and scan the QR Code;
- We have your current contact details (email address and mobile number) on file.
We thank you for your understanding during these challenging times. Should you need any further information, or wish to discuss any concerns you may have, please speak with your Site Manager or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.