COVID-19 Update for Residents, Family and Representatives (Residential Facilities) from Juniper CEO, Chris Hall AM

Since the first instance of COVID-19 in aged care in NSW and subsequent outbreaks in Victoria, we have been applying the lessons learned to our planning and preparation here. Since March, we have been working collaboratively with five other larger WA aged care providers, liaising with the WA Department of Health to formulate the WA COVID-19 Residential Aged Care Facility Outbreak Plan – a living document that is continuously being reviewed and revised as we learn from the developing situation in the eastern states.

We are working to ensure that WA aged care providers, the WA Department of Health – Public Health Unit and the Commonwealth are well prepared to work together to effectively respond to and limit the spread of the virus.

Alongside this, we are creating more localised plans, specific to Juniper facilities, to prevent an outbreak and manage one if it occurs.  We have conducted several ‘scenario tests’ of our plans to ensure all parts of the plan work, and will continue to do so.  There has been significant investment in training of existing staff on COVID-19 infection control, the creation of PPE stockpiles, and the development of a surge workforce (replacement workforce should Juniper staff need to quarantine or isolate). At all times we are working with staff to ensure anyone who is sick does not turn up to work and Juniper is supporting staff with paid pandemic leave.

We are also taking action to identify staff that work across multiple aged care facilities, and preparing plans to minimise as much as possible staff movements across our sites in the event of community transmission in WA or in the event the WA Government applies restrictions on staff working at more than one aged care facility.

Should we receive confirmation of community transmission in the local area of one of our facilities, swift and decisive action will be necessary including the reintroduction of strict visitor restrictions as a means of protecting residents from the spread of the virus. If this occurs, rest assured we have plans in place to maintain open lines of communication with families, so you are regularly updated and able to stay in touch with your loved ones remotely.

As you know, Juniper is following the WA Public Health Directives for screening of all visitors to residential aged care sites and we are also working with our residents, families and staff on the education of the preventative measures we can take right now. Preventing community transmission of COVID-19 in Western Australia is reliant on all West Australians doing the right thing and abiding by the Government’s directions for physical distancing and hand hygiene.

Juniper takes the health and wellbeing of our residents and clients very seriously and we are doing everything we can to be as prepared and equipped as possible should we face an outbreak of COVID-19 in WA.

I want to take this opportunity to remind you of the current visiting arrangements at all Juniper aged care facilities which are in line with relevant state and federal guidelines, including the WA Directions, Visitors To Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions (No 3).

Visiting requirements at Juniper aged care facilities:

  • All visitors are required to complete a health and travel declaration and sign in and out when visiting a facility
  • All visitors must show evidence of a current influenza vaccination or valid medical exemption
  • All visitors must have their temperature tested, and test below 37.5 degrees to enter
  • Residents may have more than one visit per day of no more than two visitors at any one time
  • Visit length is for a maximum of two hours except for the resident’s spouse, close relative or social support
  • Visits must take place in the resident’s room, outdoors or other area as designated by the Manager – no visits are to take place in facility common areas
  • All visitors will need to wash their hands or use alcohol hand sanitizer before entering and on leaving the premises
  • Physical distancing of 1.5 metres is to be maintained at all times where practicable

I would like to thank you all for your ongoing support and compliance with the visiting guidelines.  Let’s continue to work together to ensure the best protection for you and your loved ones in our care.

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