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Following the distressing news that our Macquarie Park based home, Dorothy Henderson Lodge, had a confirmed case of COVID-19 in March 2020, and as cases spread across NSW, we made the incredibly difficult decision to place all of our homes into preventative closure for the safety of residents.
The closures were understandably concerning for residents and their families, who were no longer able to see each other in person. As it became clear that the health crisis would continue indefinitely, and to facilitate the vital interaction that residents have with their families and visitors we moved quickly to create a new role at each home, a Connections Coordinator, who assisted residents to make phone and video calls to family.
We also established Safe Visiting Spaces at each home, enabling visitors to see residents in person, but with physical distancing in place.
In April 2020 we were invited into discussions with the Federal Government about how to best to facilitate visitations to aged care homes, while balancing the risk that exists to elderly and vulnerable residents during pandemic.
The Government committee comprising the sector, including peak bodies and consumer representatives developed a Code of Conduct for visiting arrangements, to be used by all aged care providers. The Code acknowledges the need for connection between family members and residents at the same time as prioritising the health and safety of residents.
Closing our homes was one of the hardest decisions we have made at BaptistCare, and we continue to manage the visitation to each of our homes based on advice from NSW Health and local public health units.