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 Victorian 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.
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.
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.
Can I visit a Premier Health Care home at present?
Yes. Whilst ordinarily there are no restrictions on visitations, at present we are in a period of ‘Limited Visitations’. Our Visitor Policy is as follows:
- Visits must 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;
- Our visiting hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm.
- Each resident may have one visit per day, of up to two persons, at the same time.
- Visits are limited to one hour in duration, in the resident’s own room; social distancing must be maintained.
- Priority for weekend visits are given to those people who strictly cannot attend during the week (eg. those coming from the country), residents who are receiving end of life care, or those who have a demonstrated pattern of involvement in the care of their loved one. (Rules around weekend visits is subject to change on the basis of current numbers in the particular state and capacity to screen visitors).
- All visitors must be vaccinated against the 2020 Seasonal Influenza.
Why can’t more than two persons visit at the same time?
Under Qld and SA Emergency Management Directions, only two persons may visit a resident at the same time. We will advise you once this rule changes.
This rule does not, however, apply to residents receiving end of life care. In such circumstances, more than two persons may be permitted to visit at the same time.
Who must wear masks in our homes?
South Australia: All medical, nursing, allied health and care staff must wear a mask when providing care to residents. Visitors that have been granted an exemption under the State’s Emergency Management Directions to leave quarantine to visit a resident receiving end of life care must wear full PPE.
Queensland: Any employees, contractors or volunteers who work across multiple care facilities must wear a mask.
While visitors in SA and Qld are not required to wear a mask, it is encouraged in Premier Health Care facilities.
Does Premier Health Care have a policy on staff that work across multiple care facilities?
The Victorian experience in Aged Care has 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.
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. In South Australia, from 27 August 2020 personal care workers are not permitted to work across more than one aged care facility.
Do I have to be vaccinated against the 2020 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 2020 seasonal influenza vaccination. You must provide evidence of this prior to entry.
Evidence may include a Medicare Vaccination 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.
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.
Queensland: At present, residents may leave the Facility to receive end of life care, to access health or medical care, to attend a small family gathering, to exercise or to attend a funeral.
South Australia: At present, there are no restrictions on resident 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.
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;
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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 (VIC / ACT / NSW) 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 and you download the COVID Safe App;
- You please ensure 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 email@example.com.