2 April 2020

We are providing you with another update due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our continued response as a provider of aged care services. As the situation continues to unfold around us, we are all doing our best to respond and react to the directions and guidance being provided by Government and other health related authorities. Obviously, this is a difficult time for everyone, and especially for those in our communities that are most at risk from the virus, and their loved ones, who understandably, are concerned for their health and wellbeing.

We want you to know that we continue to focus on taking the necessary steps and measures to help protect the vulnerable people entrusted in our care, along with the teams who are caring for them. We are closely following the guidelines and advice issued from government and health authorities and have robust infection control processes in place. We are also screening employees and essential service representatives entering our homes and services during this time.

As you would be aware, in addition to these measures, we implemented a two-week visitor restriction period that commenced on Friday 20 March, limiting visits to under compassionate circumstances only. This was a precautionary and early measure, which we firmly believe was necessary to help reduce to risk of infection from the virus.

We advised you that we would review this decision prior to the end of this two-week period and we have now done this, very closely and cautiously, and can share the next steps with you.

Update on visitation to Whiddon aged care homes during this time

Following tight guidelines issued by the Federal Government, the effectiveness of the visitor restrictions we put in place to date, and the continued need to protect our most vulnerable people, we have made the difficult decision to continue our current visitor restrictions until we are in an environment where it is safe for us to relax them.

We understand that this decision may be distressing for many. However, the reality is that we are in very difficult times, and it is in the interest of everyone, that we continue to apply these restrictions.

The Government is asking all of us to stay at home, unless it is for essential purposes during this time. They also strongly recommend that Australians over 70 years of age, those over 60 years of age with an existing health condition, and any indigenous Australians over the age of 50, should proactively self-isolate.

Aligned to this directive, and as per the restrictions we put in place in the initial two-week period, we will continue to only allow visitors to our homes under compassionate circumstances only. While we are all concerned for the safety and wellbeing of loved ones we must stress that visitations are severely restricted to protect the vulnerable residents we have been entrusted to care for and ask that you assist us by following these guidelines.

If you do need to visit under compassionate grounds, please be aware that we do have a visitor process in place designed to safeguard our residents (your loved ones). Visitors will be asked to follow strict procedures.

We thank you for your understanding and patience as we continue to manage this evolving situation as best as we can. The safety and wellbeing of your loved ones, and the people who care for them, remains out highest priority.

How we’re keeping your loved ones connected and well during this time

Here’s a snapshot of how our wonderful and dedicated staff are working hard to keep residents connected, entertained, stimulated and part of the Whiddon family.

  • Our care homes have increased the number of Leisure Officer hours to ensure that residents’ wellbeing is supported, and that we are able to accommodate the increased need for one-on-one support.
  • Residents are still able to meet in small groups and participate in group activities. We have modified our bigger group activities to offer them in smaller groups, and offer more of these group activities. They can also still enjoy going outside in the garden of the care home in small groups
  • Keeping residents connected with their family and friends is a priority for us. Our Leisure Officers are assisting with telephone calls, Skype calls and use of Zoom where applicable, to help keep families connected. Good old-fashioned mail is also being used too, and we’re helping residents to make cards, and send messages.
  • Our Leisure Officers are using Zoom to screen church services, and to help our spiritual and pastoral care partners stay in touch with our residents.
  • We’re trialling new technology to assist with improved communication, and we are excited to share more around this with you soon.
  • We’re establishing our own ‘volunteer calling service’ to increase the amount of social contact and connection for residents who may not have many family contacts.
  • We’re working with schools to send messages and drawings to residents (online), particularly in areas where we have strong relationships with the schools.
  • Our Leisure Officers have been modifying our existing and well-loved activities so that they can still be offered in our homes. We’ve seen activities like ‘Armchair travel’ or Google Earth ‘trips’ in place instead of outings, along with resident talent competitions in lieu of external entertainers for now.
  • Opportunities for exercise have been increased where we can. We’re offering more Dancewise sessions and encouraging walking trips around the care homes, or strolls in our beautiful gardens.
  • We are using our outdoor spaces as much as we can, weather permitting, and offering morning and afternoon teas outside so residents can enjoy the fresh air.
  • Games, quizzes and puzzles are always popular with our residents and more of these are being offered in the morning to increase stimulation and interaction between the residents.
  • We’re sharing ideas across our homes, so we can make the most of the creative ideas coming through right now! We’ve seen some fantastic ideas such as our ‘positive pants’ campaign – a fun way of sharing positive messages. We’ve also seen ‘window therapy’ come to life – a creative and contact-free fun way of engaging with performers through the window.
  • The power of music in incredible at any time. We’re stepping it up and using music to evoke memories and for residents to enjoy singalongs and karaoke sessions.
  • We continue to offer many of our favourite programs like HenPower, Chat Stories and Tea, our Growing Together gardening program – and will very soon be implementing our new Cooking Club!

Important FAQs

Can I still bring in items for my family member?
Due to the risk the virus poses from living on various surfaces, items are no longer permitted to be dropped off by family members. However, if there are exceptional circumstances, please do speak to the Care Manager of your home for advice.

I wash my family member’s clothes. Can I still do this?
If you have previously preferred to wash your families members clothes we will wash your loved one’s clothing during this time, as there is a risk of the virus spreading through handling 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 via our 1300 738 388 line.

Should I get a flu vaccine?
The latest guidelines provided by both Federal and State Governments have made it mandatory that from 1 May 2020, anyone that is entering an aged care home will be required to show appropriate evidence of flu vaccination. You will need to speak to your GP about getting your flu vaccination. More information on this will be provided to families.

How can I find out more about COVID-19 and Whiddon’s response?
Please visit our website at www.whiddon.com.au. This is an important resource, where you’ll find our latest updates around COVID-19 on a special page we have set up. You can also contact our Customer Relations Team on 1300 738 388.

To see the latest Whiddon news (snippet below) with photos of our residents enjoying a range of activities click here.