Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
For those RSL LifeCare homes which have visitor booking times enabled the current NSW & ACT Health restrictions to apply. Visitors cannot enter a RAC facility if:
- They have been told by any health authority (e.g., ACT Health or NSW Health) that they need to quarantine or isolate.
- They feel unwell and have any symptoms of COVID-19 and have tested positive for COVID-19 or are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test.
- In the last 14 days, they have been to an overseas country unless they have returned a negative PCR test 7 days or later after arrival in NSW (NSW only rule)
- They have been overseas in the past 14 days (ACT only rule)
All visitors to our RAC facilities in NSW & the ACT must abide by the following rules:
- Always wear a surgical mask while on RSL LifeCare premises.
- Abide by the social distancing rules of 1 person per 1.5 square meters*
- All visitors aged 12 years and over to an aged care facility must have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before their visit unless they can provide a COVID-19 medical contraindication certificate, or the visit is for end of life.
- Children under the age of 12 are permitted to enter an aged care facility in the company of a fully vaccinated adult
Aged Care residents leaving the home to attend small family gatherings must follow the current Public Health Orders and not go into an area that is currently under a stay-at-home Order.
Please note that all staff and essential visitors/contractors must always wear a face mask in a residential aged care facility.
More information on how we assess risks and what this means can be found here.
We appreciate the situation is challenging and appreciate the ongoing support of our residents and families.
What are the changes?
- Based on our daily risk assessments, visitor restrictions will be introduced to Aged Care Homes within close proximity of recent community infections
- Industry visitor access exemptions are summarised below:
Summary of Visitors Access Code (Visitors allowed to continue as normal)
a. Residents who are dying should be allowed in-room visits from loved ones on a regular basis.
b. Residents who have a clearly established and regular pattern of involvement from visitors contributing to their care and support (this could be daily or a number of times per week and, for example assisting a resident with their meals or with essential behaviour support such as for people living with dementia) must continue to have these visits facilitated.
c. Visits from family, families of choice and friends who travel extensive distances to visit the resident.
d. Residents with a clear mental health issue- Provision of support to maintain the mental wellbeing of the older person, where a serious mental illness is known or emerging and where the maintenance of social and family connection may contribute to relieving social and emotional distress for the resident.
We will consider any and all requests for visitor access even if they fall outside of these criteria. We want to work constructively with residents and families to ensure that we balance resident safety and quality of life.
We appreciate this is a difficult and challenging time for our residents, their families and our staff. We want to do our utmost to minimise risk of infection in the homes, whilst facilitating our residents to have the family support that they need.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact the home and we will assist you to reach a suitable outcome.
Should you not be able to reach an acceptable outcome you may escalate your concern directly by emailing [email protected].
Coronavirus update: Keeping Our Residents and Employees Safe
What happens if a residential aged care home experiences a COVID-19 outbreak?
Will I be able to see my loved one?
What is an essential visit in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak?
Can I drop off a care package at the home?
Who’s in charge?
Will my loved one have to have a COVID test?
I visit my loved one every day. How will I know their care needs are being met?
Will there be enough staff to look after residents?
What about staff working at multiple sites?
Will staff be required to wear PPE in the home?
Will my loved one be able to go to hospital if they contract COVID-19?
Can I take my loved one out of the home?
How long will the outbreak last?
Is RSL LifeCare admitting new residents?
Where can I go to make sure my loved one is treated fairly and respectfully?
Further information: What to expect during a COVID-19 outbreak
Like all aged care providers in Australia, RSL LifeCare has a COVID-19 Response Plan. The Q&A below is designed to help you understand the procedures involved and what to expect in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in one of our residential aged care homes.
Our COVID-19 Response Plan will be triggered by one of the following:
- Confirmed outbreak: when a resident living in the home tests positive for COVID-19
- Precautionary lockdown: when a staff member or resident who is outside of the home tests positive, but importantly there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the home.
As a first step, the impacted home will initiate its outbreak procedures, which will include a full and immediate lockdown of the facility, with deep cleaning and additional infection control measures put in place.
The home will automatically be restricted to visitors until such time as visits are deemed safe with the guidance of public health units. Compassionate requests for essential visits will always be considered
Keeping loved ones connected is extremely important. We encourage you to ask about the best way to stay in touch with your loved one during your daily calls with the staff at the home. The current Skype catchups that we have had in place since March 2020 would continue.
Essential visits would be permitted only for the nominated contacts of those residents such as those undergoing end of life care.
Coronavirus be transmitted through contact with surfaces where it can have a lifespan lasting several days. To ensure our homes can maintain a high level of hygiene and prevent risk of infection, any packages brought into the home should be essential items that can be wiped down easily with alcohol based, anti-bacterial wipes.
Essential items are defined as those that support and enable communication with families and that are important in acknowledging milestones and special occasions. Examples include iPads, mobile phones, pre-packaged chocolates i.e. all items that can be wiped down with disinfectant.
Non-essential items include things such as home cooked meals, laundry, perishables, any items requiring refrigeration or that presents food safety issues and will not be permitted.
If you have any questions relating to care packages, please contact the Facility Manager of the home prior to bringing items
All decisions during an outbreak will be made in consultation with the NSW Public Health Units and NSW Ministry of Health, in the best interests of our residents.
You can expect the situation during an outbreak to remain fluid, and advice may change from one day to the next. That’s why we will be making daily phone calls, updating our website daily and offering an inbound call centre, so you will always have access to the latest information.
RSL LifeCare is required to notify the NSW Public Health Unit who will then contact other relevant authorities once we have one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the home.
The Public Health Unit will let us know when to begin COVID-19 testing for all staff and residents. They will also advise us on whether and how residents should be moved within the home, or out of the home (for example, to hospital) to minimise risks to their health and safety, and to that of others in the home.
The care needs of our residents are determined through collaborative consultation with the family and Registered Nurses and Management team at the home. All residents and nominated person are offered a copy of the resident’s care plan. We encourage families to consult with the Registered Nurses, Facility Manager or Care Manager at the home to ensure we have captured your loved one’s goals, needs and preferences within their care plan.
RSL LifeCare has a COVID-19 Operational Response Team that is on call 24/7 in the event of an outbreak in one of our Homes. One of the key functions of the outbreak team is workforce provision and protection. The team will meet regularly to review the impacted home’s staffing roster for that day, as well as forecasting needs for the days following.
It is expected that during an outbreak, there will be staff who may need to self-isolate as a result of being a close contact of a confirmed positive case, who are unwell, or have made the decision to not work in a COVID environment. This can impact staff availability. In this situation, our priority is always to do what is necessary to have a full complement of staff to care for residents.
To do this, we will be reaching out to or Rapid Response Team of managers, registered nurses, carers and support staff from other RSL LifeCare homes who are familiar with our practices and policies. In this scenario, the staff member will remain at the outbreak home for the duration of the outbreak.
We will also seek the help of agency staff. In this case we will provide them with training to make sure they have the infection control knowledge required to work at the home and understand the resident’s needs, goals and preferences which will be in the format of the summary care plan this will be made available to all staff. NSW Health also has a government surge workforce that has contracted private agencies to further support aged care homes in the event of an outbreak.
There is concern around the increased risk of transmission if staff or contractors work at different aged care homes or other community centres.
Currently in Victoria, the government has required all aged care workers to select a single site and only work in that one facility as a means of reducing the risk of further transmission of the virus.
QLD has directed that staff do not work across multiple facilities as much as possible. It is likely that NSW will follow suit. Our preference under the current COVID situation is to have staff work in one Home only and we are currently reviewing and adjusting our rosters to achieve this.
Where this is not possible, we mitigate risk through our staff health screening and declaration process that requires staff to disclose if they work in other aged care facilities with confirmed COVID-19 or have frequented any published hot spots whereby they will need to wear a mask while at work. This must be completed before commencement of any shift.
Currently, all staff are required to wear masks while in the home where there is a Level 1 or Level 2 restriction. Staff are not required to where a mask where there is a Level 3 or Level 4 restriction, unless they live or have been in a hotspot as listed by NSW Health.
Residents are not required to wear masks.
Our team reviews and reports on PPE inventory on a weekly basis. In the event of an outbreak in one of our homes, PPE supplies will be managed centrally with a forward-looking view of maintaining at least one to two weeks of PPE supplies in the affected home.
If a resident returns a positive COVID-19 test, RSL LifeCare’s strong preference is for that resident to be transferred to hospital as soon as possible.
However, NSW Health is the ultimate decision-maker during a COVID-19 outbreak, and they have not been definitive on this matter, instead indicating they will make decisions on whether to transfer residents to hospital on a case-by-case basis.
Some families may want to take their loved one out of a home that is experiencing a precautionary lockdown or outbreak of COVID-19. It is important that you know you can take your loved one home through the non-hospital ‘social leave’ process. This is subject to them returning a negative COVID-19 test result.
We will help you to understand the ongoing care needs of your loved one which will need to be continued while they are away from the home. Please note your loved one will not be able to return until the lockdown or outbreak is declared officially over by the public health unit health authorities.
An outbreak can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months (or more) in order to contain, suppress and overcome the infections.
This process is a partnership between the home’s management (who are trained in infection control) RSL LifeCare central support staff (who will provide operational support and oversight), Local Public Health Unit and Ministry of Health (who will assess our residents for clinical need and conduct all contact tracing and COVID-19 testing), and federal government representatives (who will provide workforce support and other directed support required).
While RSL LifeCare is generally admitting new residents, please note that no new residents can be admitted to a home that is in precautionary lockdown, or that has a COVID-19 outbreak.
For all other homes, a thorough screening process is in place to ensure new residents have the necessary health clearances from relevant health practitioners and/or hospitals prior to moving into the home.
Our aim is to support all new residents in settling into a new home, particularly during these challenging times.
We would always encourage you to speak to the Facility Manager or Care Manager of your home in the first instance if you have any questions about your loved one’s care.
Consumers receiving Australian Government funded aged care services are protected by a Charter of Aged Care Rights. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website includes further resources about aged care, including how to make a complaint.
Find the information you need
Visitor Access Guidelines
The RSL LifeCare visitor guidelines below are aligned with the NSW Public Health Order (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) dated 22 June 2020:
- All visits will be held in resident’s room.
- All visits will have a maximum duration of 2 hours.
- Strict social distancing will be maintained by all visitors and residents.
- Visitors will be required to provide proof of 2020 influenza vaccination as mandated by NSW Government in the Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 2) 2020.
- All visitors will be required to have their temperature tested prior to entering the facility. Anyone with a temperature above 37.5 degrees will not be allowed entry.
- All visitors must complete an RSL LifeCare Health Declaration Form prior to entry.
- The total number of visitors on site will be dependent on the facility size.
- Visitors must contact the facility and book in their visit prior to their arrival. Time slots will be strictly adhered to and access without a booking will not be allowed.
- Visitors must enter and leave the site through the main entrance.
- Hand sanitiser will be provided and is to be used before and after each visit.
- Visitors can only visit the resident they have booked to see and must not visit any other residents or family members
- Visiting times will be Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm. Visitors will not be able to enter outside the designated visiting hours.
Do all visitors to an aged care facility need to have had a flu shot?
The Government have mandated that no one can enter a residential aged care facility without an up-to-date flu shot. The Health Department make it clear that the only exceptions to this rule are, “in medical practice, the only absolute contraindications to influenza vaccines are:
- Anaphylaxis after a previous dose of any influenza vaccine,
- A history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or
- If a person is receiving cancer immuno-oncology therapies.”
People who fall into one of these three categories will be requested to wear full Personal Protective Equipment for their visit, which we will happily supply. RSL LifeCare are constantly monitoring the guidance given by the Government, the public health departments and the aged care industry, so that we can continue to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents.
We will continue to support compassionate visits for residents who are palliative, visits from people who have a clearly established pattern of involvement in providing a resident’s care and support, and visitors who have travelled a long distance. These visits will continue to operate under a separate set of guidelines (including two people for two hours per day, in room only, and must comply with screening and vaccination).
Keeping in Contact
As we progressively start welcoming visitors back into our facilities, we encourage you to take advantage of some of the additional technology (Android tablets) we have put in place to help our residents and their loved ones keep in touch, either over the phone, or through video conferencing. Please feel free to call your local Facility Manager to find out what’s available at your local site and how we can help your loved one with the technology.
Residential Aged Care
Our number one priority is to look after the health and well-being of our residents and teams. As the COVID-19 situation has progressed we have taken additional measures to protect their safety.
As we know Australia’s elderly are more vulnerable to COVID-19, at this time we see fit to act with an abundance of caution and tighten restrictions on visitors to our homes.
Please note that exceptions will be made on a case by case basis, at the regional manager’s discretion for families in situations such as ‘end of life’ care.
We understand the importance of residents’ interaction with their families and we encourage families to connect with their loved ones on phone and video calls.
We also have a number of initiatives planned to ensure social engagement can continue through these extraordinary circumstances. Please see the ‘connected community’ section below for more information and ideas on how to stay in touch with your loved one.
We appreciate the support of the community at this time as we work toward getting back to normal operations.
We understand the importance to our residents of interaction with family, friends and the broader community. These are extraordinary times and while we cannot be together face to face, we can still remain connected.
How to keep in contact
We encourage families and friends to keep in touch with their loved one by:
- Phone calls – all residents have access to phones. Please ask our teams if you do not know the phone number to call
- Sending letters, photos, drawings from the kids – many children are home from school. Letter writing is a great literacy activity and way to update your loved one on family news. Please ensure that good hand hygiene is maintained during the creation and transport of these items
- Care packages – If you are well and not at risk of COVID-19 from recent travel or contact with a confirmed case, you are welcome to drop off a care package to the reception area of you loved one’s home. A small thought, like a magazine or a bunch of flowers from your garden can go a long way in reminding your loved one you’re thinking of them. Please ensure that good hand hygiene is maintained during the creation and transport of these items
In the coming days we will be implementing a range of online initiatives to ensure ongoing social engagement for our residents with their families. Please watch this space for more details.
Please be assured that Home Care can continue during COVID-19.
Our teams have completed additional training to ensure the safety of our home care customers and our teams during this time. All staff and contractors must meet specific screening protocol before they can deliver a service.
In addition, we have implemented a screening protocol for our clients and anyone present in the home before we conduct the Home Care visit.
Before your visit, please expect a Home Care team member to contact you to ask some questions to ensure it is safe for them to enter your home or determine whether you may need a COVID-19 assessment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common signs include: sore throat, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, fever.
Do I need to wear a face mask?
We recommend that you wear a face mask when visitig one of our facilities or villages. If it is mandatory to wear a face mark at the facility, RSL LifeCare will provide a mask for you to wear.
What should I do if I get cold-like symptoms?
Phone your GP. Many doctors now have telehealth consultations available so they can speak with you over the phone and advise on next steps.
What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
Phone your GP. Many doctors now have telehealth consultations available so they can speak with you over the phone and advise on next steps.
How long will we need to practise social distancing?
The Prime Minister anticipates COVID-19 will be present in our communities for at least six months. We are advised to keep a social distance of 1.5 metres from others and gather with groups of no more than two people until further notice.
COVID-19 is commonly characterised by (but not limited to):
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
Please contact your GP if you are displaying these symptoms. In addition, any resident with any of the above symptoms must advise their Facility/Village Manager immediately.
How to stay safe and well
Safety and wellness must be first and foremost during this time. Here are six ways to take care of yourself:
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds before eating and after going to the toilet.
- Avoid touching your face
- Keep surfaces clean
- Maintain a ‘social distance’ of about two metres from others
- Avoid non-essential group gatherings
- Get your flu vaccine
The Department of Health has a helpful video on good hygiene here.
- All Australians are advised to stay at home except for essential shopping, medical needs
- Social gatherings must be limited to two people
- Non-essential services are closed until further notice. This includes RSL LifeCare community centers and facilities including (but not limited to) pools, hairdressers, bowling greens and recreational areas
- Cafes at RSL LifeCare facilities will be closed for dining in, however some sites may offer takeaway or home delivery
- Our medical centres will remain open, however please ring ahead to arrange a Telehealth appointment
During COVID-19, the following applies to anyone on site at RSL LifeCare properties. You are not permitted to enter RSL LifeCare properties if you:
- Have returned from overseas in the past 14 days
- Have a confirmed case of COVID-19
- Have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19
- Are unwell
- Are under 18 years of age
- Social distancing of 1.5 metres (no handshakes or hugs)
- No group gatherings of more than 10 people
- No school group visits of any size
- If you have arrived back to Australia from overseas since midnight Monday 16 March, you must self-isolate for 14 days
- If you have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 14 days
- If you are unwell, you must advise village/facility management immediately and self-isolate for 14 days
COVID-19 has presented Australians with an extraordinary challenge that we must take extremely seriously. However, while we cannot be together in person, it is more important than ever to stay connected.
We urge all our families to make a routine of phone or video calls to check in on each other.
There is a lot of information, as well as ‘misinformation’ available about COVID-19. Aside from our own website, we encourage you to refer to reliable resources including:
- Coronavirus Australia app – available for download in the Apple App Store or Google Play
- Australian Government Whatsapp channel – enter aus.gov.au/whatsapp in your internet browser
- The Department of Health
- The World Health Organisation
If you would like to know more, we recommend the fact sheets below:
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