Date: 4 March 2020

Please note that we will continue to update this page, so please keep checking back in for updates and check the latest advice from government authorities.

NEW update 14 May 2020

The Industry Code for visiting residential aged care homes has now been finalised, following a week of consultation with consumers and aged care providers. You can view the code here. Whiddon’s COVID-19 visitation policy is aligned with the principles of the new code. The code will be reviewed in late May to make any changes to correct  concerns or issues.

Please note that letters, parcels including gifts, non-perishable food and communication devices for residents, are able to be received in our care homes. These items will be subject to Whiddon’s infection prevention and control measures.

Update 8 May 2020

Please find a letter from our CEO, Chris Mamarelis, on visiting options at Whiddon during COVID-19, along with requirements for influenza vaccinations. Click here to read the letter. You can also watch along to the video message from our CEO.

Update 6 May 2020

The Australian Government has released a draft visitor access code to ensure a nationally consistent visitation policy to residential aged care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft code is open for consultation until 3pm on 7 May and it is expected that the code will be finalised by Monday 11 May. Click here to read the draft code and find out more about the consultation process.

Update 1 May 2020

The Australian Government has launched a new voluntary app, COVIDSafe, to help keep everyone in our communities safe from further spread of COVID-19, through early notification of any possible exposure.

At Whiddon, we welcome the new app and encourage families, clients and employees to download the new public health tool. The app uses technology to speed up the work health officials are already doing in identifying people who have been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19. This is even more important in the context of aged care where caring and protecting our residents and clients is our number one priority.

The app is part of three key requirements for easing COVID-19 restrictions – test, trace and respond, and particularly helps with the trace and response elements. The technology helps to find close contacts of those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, so they can be quickly contacted. This will help slow spread of the virus and protect your family, friends and community from possible infection.

Downloading COVIDSafe is an additional step that we can all take as individuals, to help keep everyone in our communities safe. Once it is installed and running, the app uses Bluetooth to look for other phones that also have the app installed.

For those concerned about privacy issues, state and territory officials can only access the app information if someone tests positive and agrees to the information on their phone being uploaded. COVIDSafe only keeps contact information for 21 days, which covers the maximum incubation period and the time it takes for someone to be tested.

Downloading the app is easy and can be done via Apple App store or Google Play Store. You can watch a short video on key points on the app and how to get started.

For further information from the Australian Government on COVIDSafe visit www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app

Update 29 April 2020 – Influenza Vaccinations

As previously mentioned, directions issued by the Australian Government require anyone visiting or entering an aged care home to be vaccinated against influenza (the flu) from 1 May 2020. Under the directives issued by all states and territories, combined with the decisions made by the National Cabinet, the Prime Minister of Australia announced on 18 March 2020, that all employees, visitors, health practitioners, contractors, volunteers and others must have an annual influenza vaccination.

Please find a letter for families on influenza vaccination providing a further update on these requirements here. You can also find further information on this Department of Health Fact Sheet.

Please note that this does not mean that visitor restrictions are relaxed in our residential care homes, however we are  facilitating visits to our care homes on compassionate grounds, along with risk-free visits. Contact our customer relations team on 1300 738 388 for further information.

NEW update 23 April 2020 on Whiddon’s response to COVID-19

Like many aged care providers, Whiddon made a decision to introduce visitor restrictions to help protect residents against the spread of COVID-19. There have not been any cases of COVID-19 among residents in our care homes to date.

We understand that it is a very uncertain and difficult time for everyone. We also understand how important it is that our residents stay connected to their loved ones. To help achieve this, we introduced risk free visits and are using technology to help keep residents connected to family wherever we can. We are also facilitating visits on compassionate grounds and have done so throughout visitor restrictions. These activities are continuing.

Following comments made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week, our team is reviewing the information and will provide an update to families and residents around this via our website and social media channels. We expect that as the COVID-19 situation improves within our communities that we will be in a position to relax the restrictions.

Update 21 April 2020:

Influenza vaccinations

Directions issued by the Australian Government require anyone visiting or entering an aged care home to be vaccinated against influenza (the flu) from 1 May 2020. Under the directives issued by all states and territories, combined with the decisions made by the National Cabinet, the Prime Minister of Australia announced on 18 March 2020, that all employees, visitors, health practitioners, contractors, volunteers and others must have an annual influenza vaccination.

Please find a letter for families on influenza vaccination  providing a further update on these requirements here. You can also find further information on this Department of Health Fact Sheet. 

Temperature scanning at our services

Please find a temperature scanning fact sheet for families and visitors.

Update 20 April 2020:

Risk free visits for families

We’re excited to be offering risk-free visits across our homes for family members wishing to visit their loved ones. Read more about this here.

Update 10 April 2020:

Following feedback from families and employees, we have reviewed our policy on items that can be delivered to residents during the restricted visiting period. We have very carefully considered what can be delivered and have included these items below, along with our delivery and handling processes.

What can I arrange to be delivered to my loved one at Whiddon?

Accepted items include:

  • Brand new items in their original and sealed packaging (the preference is for these items to be in
    non‐porous packing such as plastic). This includes magazine subscriptions direct from the publisher
    or supplier, CD’s, new books, games, puzzles, posted greeting cards.
  • General resident mail or letters. Alternatively, we encourage you to email messages to the care
    home and we can share these with your loved ones.
  • Sealed gift or care baskets that do not include used goods, fruit or other food items.
  • Flower arrangements direct from florist suppliers, in a vase or boxed arrangements.

Please note that any food, produce or second hand items are not permitted to be delivered or dropped off.
Due to the transmission risk of the virus, any items delivered or taken to a care home that does not meet
the criteria above, will be discarded.

Do I need to advise Whiddon if a delivery is taking place?

Yes please. Ask for the designated drop off location point that the item needs to be delivered to, and let us know of the approximate delivery time so we can ensure it is received. We will accept items via Australia Post or courier via contactless delivery, Monday to Friday between 10am and 3pm.

Does Whiddon have a process for deliveries and mail?

Yes. We will hold all delivered mail and goods packaged in porous material for a period of six days after cleaning the surface to reduce the transmission risk. All other items will be sanitised prior to delivery to the resident.

Laundry items

We understand that a number of residents and families have expressed concerns about Whiddon offering to launder residents’ personal clothing. If there are concerns around this, please contact the Care Manager for alternative options. Please note that this option has been designed to minimise the risk of transmission and we ask for your understanding and cooperation in working with us to achieve a mutually agreeable solution.

Update 2 April 2020:

Please find an important update and FAQs regarding our visitor restrictions here.

Update 31 March 2020:

Please find a transcript of the video message issued by our CEO last week here, along with a number of FAQ’s with helpful information below.

Why is there a precautionary closure period?

As you would be aware, the COVID-19 crisis has evolved quite rapidly. The health and safety of our residents, employees and visitors is our highest priority. Whiddon made the decision to implement restricted visitation at all of our homes to help protect our people from COVID-19. This will be reviewed prior to 3 April and communicated very soon with families. We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone and we are working on innovative ways to keep our residents connected and engaged during this difficult time.

If there are compassionate circumstances, you should speak to the home’s Director of Care Services or Care Manager, where requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. There will still be special conditions that apply to such visits.

Can I drop items in to my family member?

Due to the risk of the virus spreading through living on surfaces, items are no longer permitted to be dropped off to family members. However, if there is an exceptional circumstance, please speak to the Care Manager of your home for advice. Find out more here about how long COVID-19 lasts on surfaces.

I wash my family member’s clothes. Can I still do this?

We will wash your loved one’s clothes during this time due to the risk of the virus spreading through fabric and other surfaces.

How can I pay my account without coming in?

During the current visitor restrictions, if you usually pay fees directly at one of our care homes, please be aware that there are other options available during this time. The preferred method of payment is through EFT direct transfer to Whiddon. Please ensure you include your Whiddon account number as a reference. Alternatively, you can deposit your cash or cheque into Whiddon’s account at any Commonwealth Bank branch or ATM or make a payment over the phone by credit or debit card by calling our Revenue team on 02 9827 6730.

Should I get a flu vaccine?

From 1 May 2020, anyone that is entering an aged care home will need to show appropriate evidence of flu vaccination. You will need to speak to your GP about getting your flu vaccination.

For further informaiton on COVID-19 visit www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

Update 27 March 2020:

Click here to view a video message from our CEO on Whiddon’s response to COVID-19.

Update 25 March 2020:

We have important new information about entry point restrictions at our Easton Park campus. Click here to read more.

Update 20 March 2020:

Important update:

We thank you for your understanding today as we implemented a two-week period that sees increased restrictions on all people visiting our residential age care homes. This means that during this period, there will be no visitors to our home, unless there are compassionate circumstances or the visitor is providing an essential service (such as medical or health support).

The safety of our residents and our employees is our highest priority and we genuinely feel that this is the best decision for the health and safety of our residents and employees.

We look forward to sharing more about how we will be enhancing leisure activities at our homes. We are also looking at ways to keep our residents connected to their loved ones with the use of technology.

Please note that our Customer Service Centre will be open this weekend between 9am and 4pm each day to help with enquiries. You can contact them on 1300 738 388.

Update 19 March 2020:

Important update:

As of 8am on Friday 20 March, Whiddon will introduce a two-week period that will see increased restrictions on all people visiting our residential age care homes. This means that during this period, there will be no visitors to our home, unless there are compassionate circumstances or the visitor is providing an essential service (such as medical or health support). The safety of our residents and our employees is our highest priority and this has not been a decision that we have made lightly.

As indicated in the Prime Minister’s press conference on Wednesday, 18 March, we have the discretion to take additional precautionary measures that we see as necessary to minimise the risk of exposure to our residents and employees. The decision to introduce this additional precaution was made in consultation with our management teams and based on feedback from health service experts. We genuinely feel this is the best decision for the health and safety of our residents and our employees.

While we have taken many precautions to date, this additional measure will allow us to continue to assess and respond to the emerging situation operationally. It will also allow us to build on the measures that focus on infection control, so we can do our best to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our residential care homes.

During this period, we will also be enhancing leisure activities at our homes and looking at ways to keep our residents connected to their loved ones with the use of technology.

If there are compassionate circumstances, families should speak to the home’s Care Manager where requests will be assessed on a case by case basis. There will still be special conditions to such visits which we must adhere to, including a maximum amount of visits per day, two visitors at a time and practicing of social distancing measures.

We thank everyone for their understanding and compliance with these new measures as we continue to do our best to keep the people we care for safe and well.

Update 16 March 2020:

Important update:

As of midnight on 15 March 2020, a new travel measure came into effect. All travellers returning or arriving from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days. For more information click here.

This updates our restrictions around visiting our homes, services and workplaces. Please do not visit:

  • If you are unwell
  • If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • If you have come into contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • If you have, or are, returning or arriving from overseas to Australia as of midnight 15 March. You must self-isolate for 14 days
  • If before midnight 15 March, you have travelled to, or transited through, high alert countries including mainland China, Iran, Italy, South Korea in the 14 days prior
  • If before midnight 15 March, you have travelled to, or transited through Japan, Mongolia and other countries of interest in the 14 days prior and have any symptoms

 

Update 13 March 2020:

Important information on visiting our homes and services:

Elderly people are vulnerable and at a higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and residential aged care facilities have been advised to have appropriate precautions in place to ensure residents continue to remain safe from Coronavirus.

We ask that anyone planning to visit one of our aged care homes, services or workplaces, please do so with caution and be aware of the following restrictions in place.
Please do not visit:

  • If you are unwell
  • If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • If you have come into contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • If you have travelled to, or transited through, high alert countries including mainland China, Iran, Italy, South Korea.
  • If you have travelled to, or transited through Japan, Mongolia and other countries of interest and have any symptoms

It is essential that you follow advice and any isolation requirements if you are at risk from any of the above and seek medical advice.

If you have visited one of our homes or services in the last fortnight and you feel that you meet any of the above exclusion criteria please advise the home or service as soon as possible.

For further information, or if you have a concern, please call our team on 1300 738 388 Monday – Friday, 8.30am-6pm.

You can also contact the 24/7 national hotline on 1800 020 080.

 

Update 10 March 2020:

Please find a number of letters below with important information. It is also important to keep checking

Letter to Whiddon residents, families and visitors
Letter to Whiddon Community Care clients
Letter to Whiddon Retirement Village residents
Letter to Whiddon stakeholders

It is important to check for the latest updates and information. There are FAQs and information at the pages below:

www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs.aspx

 

5 March 2020:

At Whiddon, we are committed to ensuring our residents, volunteers, families, team members and visitors live, work and visit an environment that is safe and places their interest first. In light of the current Coronavirus situation, we are listening to the experts and taking important actions to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

Our teams are always prepared for the flu season and understand the principles of
universal infection control precautions. For years we have worked with a specialist
organisation who has guided our teams and provided us with important resources in the
management and prevention of outbreaks.

We will continue to work with the Department of Health and are well placed to respond to, and manage, any viral outbreaks in our homes. The information below is very important and we ask you to take the time to read it through. As a community, there are steps that we can all take together to control the spread of Coronavirus.

Important information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans and scientists are still learning about how it is spread, its severity and other characteristics of the virus.

As the number of cases around the world continues to climb, it is important to monitor and follow advice from the Australian Government, NSW Health, QLD Health and the World Health Organisation, and take steps to control the spread of the virus.

Elderly people are vulnerable and at a higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and
residential aged care facilities have been advised to have appropriate precautions in place to ensure residents continue to remain safe from coronavirus.

As a family member or visitor, it is important that you check the latest advice being issued by government authorities before you plan to visit an aged care home. These can be found at the following web sites:

www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov
www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs.aspx

There are certain restrictions and advice in place for people who have travelled to high-risk countries or who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Please check these restrictions to see if any apply to you. Please note that these may be updated at any time, so it is important that you check the latest advice.

We ask that you help us to keep our residents, families, employees and visitors safe by taking steps such as regularly washing your hands, avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms and not visiting any aged care home if you are unwell.

As the flu season is just around the corner, we encourage you to speak with your GP early about getting a flu vaccination to protect you and your loved ones, and to continue to take precautions to control the spread of viruses.

Who is at most at risk for COVID-19?
The people most at risk of getting the virus are those who have:
• Recently been in mainland China or Iran (you must self-isolate for 14 days)
• Italy or South Korea (families, any visitors and employees who have visited here, or
transited through, will not be able to visit our homes for at least 14 days from the day
of arrival back in Australia.
• Japan, Mongolia and other countries of interest, you should monitor your health for
symptoms and visit your GP immediately if you develop symptoms.
• Been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of the Coronavirus

It is essential that you follow advice and any isolation requirements if you are at risk from any of the above.

Steps you can take to help limit the spread
• Make sure you clean your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub for
at least 20 seconds
• Keep away from other people and cover your nose and mouth when coughing and
sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow
• Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
• Stay home if you are sick

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 may have a fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath and other symptoms. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress. As always if you are unwell and concerned about your health please seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Please be advised that this communication is not meant to be alarmist, rather we just want to ensure that we are taking the best preventative steps to protect all those connected with our homes and services.