Churches of Christ in Queensland COVID-19 update


26 May, 2020

Update following release of Queensland Aged Care Direction (4)

The Chief Health Officer for Queensland Health has released the latest Aged Care Direction (4), extending the public health emergency as it relates to aged care. The Direction advises that this has been extended to 17 August 2020 and may be extended further. You can review the Direction by clicking on the link below.

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under-expanded-public-health-act-powers/aged-care

There is one material change to the previous directive, relating to the circumstances when an aged care operator may permit a resident to leave a service. Below is that detail from the directive:

“The operator of a residential aged care facility in the State of Queensland must not permit a resident, excluding an end of life resident, to leave the facility except to receive or access health care, to attend a funeral, in the case of emergency or on any other compassionate grounds.

The Queensland Chief Health Officer may grant an exemption to allow a resident to leave the facility on compassionate grounds.”

We strongly encourage families and friends to maintain ongoing contact with residents during this time, either in person through visits to the service, via telephone or video calls, or through written communications. Our staff are able to assist in arranging contact, please talk to your service.

Thank you to all the families and friends who have visited residents in the past month since visitors were welcomed back to services. You bring life into our homes for the residents and staff who care for and support them. Your commitment to strictly observing the protocols for visits continues to assist in our efforts to protect residents from COVID-19 and influenza at this time.


6 May, 2020

General Manager Residential Aged Care,  Anne McGill, provided a video update for our residents and their families as Churches of Christ in Queensland's continues to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

General Manager Clinical Care Governance, Sheelagh Henson, and Anne McGill also provide a video message for our dedicated residential aged care staff as they continue to do a wonderful job caring for our vulnerable residential aged care residents.



28 April, 2020 - New residential aged care service visitor policy from 30 April

On 25 March 2020, in response to requests and feedback from our residents, their health professionals, families and service management and staff, Churches of Christ in Queensland implemented a new policy to restrict visitors to the service. This difficult decision was squarely focussed on protecting our vulnerable residents from exposure to COVID-19 as the pandemic developed across the country.

This policy is now being relaxed. From this Thursday, 30 April, essential visits will be welcomed, with stringent requirements and limitations in place given the ongoing presence of the COVID-19 virus throughout Australia, which I am sure you will all appreciate and support.

Visitor Guidelines outline the rules that must be followed when visiting your loved one and include the service’s visiting hours.

Key guidelines that we require you to follow include:

  • Visits must be  pre-booked with the Service
  • Limiting visits to a  maximum 30 minutes
  • Maximum 1 visit per day (subject to visitor capacity at the service)
  • Maximum of  2 visitors for the visit
  • No more than 2 visitors at one time in the room (this includes family/friends and health professionals)
  • Visits to be conducted in a resident’s room only
  • Visitors required to adhere to social distancing practices, including 1.5 meter distance
  • Children aged 16 years not permitted at this time except on compassionate grounds (as is currently the case)
  • You will be required to complete a screening tool before entering, including your temperature being taken and perform hand hygiene
  • From 1 May documentation of your influenza vaccination will be required (or documentation for medical exemption)

There are limits on the number of visitors each service can permit at any one time and you will need to book in your visit with the service. There may be a number of people who wish to see their families immediately. Please be patient as the service works with you to make this happen.

In preparation for your visit, please do the following:

  • Pre-book your visit with your service
  • Get your 2020 influenza vaccination and send evidence through to the service (if you have a medical reason for being unable to receive the flu vaccination, please discuss this with your Service Manager in advance of the proposed visit)
  • Contact your loved one through your Family Resident Liaison or reception and let them know you will be visiting soon and see if they would like you to bring anything
  • Take photos of children/grandchildren who are unable to visit to show your loved one
  • You will be unable to visit if you have any signs of illness (particularly respiratory illness, fever and sore throat). You will be welcomed once symptoms have cleared.

We understand this is a difficult time for families physically separated from loved ones. Thank you for your support and understanding. This support has been essential to assisting us to protect our vulnerable residents. Your Service Manager and care team will be available to discuss your loved one’s condition and any questions you may have via phone or email, following your visit.

I would like to once again reiterate that the wellbeing of our residents has been paramount during this time, and is always for us and I’m sure for you. Throughout the period of visitor restrictions, doctors and other health professionals have continued appointments with residents, and families have been permitted visits on compassionate grounds.

Residents of our aged care services are not confined to the rooms (except on specific clinical grounds), and enjoy communal living and activities with their fellow residents while abiding by physical distancing guidelines and practicing good hygiene.

We swiftly released iPads to each service and implemented Resident Family Liaison roles to facilitate contact between residents and their families when restrictions were imposed. Residents and families have expressed their delight to have been able to remain in close contact through these measures.

Our aged care teams also implemented new and adjusted activities to ensure the wellbeing of residents, and many communities sent in letters and pictures for residents.

Please note that resident leave restrictions are still in place until 19 May 2020 (subject to review). Residents are only permitted to leave to attend essential appointments and receive specialist care.



23 April, 2020 - Visitor policy and vaccination reminder

On 25 March 2020, in response to requests and feedback from our residents, their health professionals, families and service management and staff, Churches of Christ in Queensland implemented a new policy to restrict visitors to the service. This difficult decision was squarely focussed on protecting our vulnerable residents from exposure to COVID-19 as the pandemic developed across the country.

The policy was always set to be reviewed by 30 April 2020 in the context of the pandemic’s progress and management in Australia. Our absolute priority is the health and safety of those who chose to make our services their home, and our decisions continue to be based firmly on this.

We are now actively working to review the visitor policy currently in place at our aged care services, with the focus squarely on the health and wellbeing of our vulnerable aged care residents. A significant focus of this review will be engaging with our residents to understand and address their apprehensions and concerns to allowing visitors into the service once more. This is their home and their welfare and safety is, and always will be, our main concern. We will update you early next week with the detail of when and how our services will again welcome visitors, albeit with stringent requirements and limitations, given the ongoing presence of the COVID-19 virus throughout Australia, which I am sure you will all appreciate and support.
Through this review, we will be developing processes to enable you to safely visit your loved one while seeking to protect all the vulnerable residents who chose to make their home with us. Some of the anticipated details are listed below.



25 March 2020 - Cessation of visitors to our aged care services

Churches of Christ in Queensland has come to the difficult decision that for the protection of our residents and staff from COVID-19 (coronavirus) we will no longer permit visitors to our residential aged care services as of close of business today, Wednesday 25 March 2020 .

This cessation of visitation applies to 30 April 2020 and will be reviewed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Australia.

We understand this will be a difficult announcement for many families, but one that we hope is not unexpected. This decision follows widespread requests and feedback from residents, resident families, resident GPs, our managers and staff.

We are squarely focussed on doing all we can to protect our residents from exposure to the virus. Over the past week we have put a number of restrictions in place in line with the government guidelines, but with the growing spread of coronavirus across communities and the increasing general restrictions in place, we view this action is now essential.

Doctors and other essential health professionals will continue to visit, applying the government and our requirements at all our services. Visitors will also be permitted on compassionate grounds to support residents at end of life. This will be on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion and prior approval of the Service Manager.

We will continue to accept new residents to our services, ensuring we continue to do this within the government guidelines. I sincerely thank you for your understanding and patience during these uncertain times as we respond to the developing pandemic situation.

The health and wellbeing of our residents and staff is at the centre of everything we do and we are taking the risk posed by the coronavirus seriously. Please be assured that we are confident and focussed in our management of the developing and unprecedented event. We have a number of strategies in place to ensure that the vulnerable people in our care are protected from the virus and the agility of our workforce to continue delivering the highest quality of care.

Churches of Christ in Queensland does not have any current confirmed COVID-19 cases amongst residents, clients or staff across our services.

20 March 2020 - Church of Christ churches respond to gathering restrictions

With the restrictions announced this week to non-essential indoor gatherings, most of our churches have ceased their usual Sunday services. Our focus is finding new and innovative ways to BE the church in our communities. Many churches are meeting in smaller groups or using technology to take their services and community online. Contact your local Church of Christ for more information on what's available in your community.

19 March 2020 - Visiting our retirement villages

Although a number of restrictions are in place regarding visits to our aged care services, these measures have not been implemented in our retirement living communities. Residents of these communities are active and independent members of the community who are free to come and go as they please, and to welcome visitors to their homes.

In saying this, we all have a responsibility to ensure we are taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Please limit visits to essential requirements only. Do not visit if you have travelled overseas or been in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 (in which case you should follow the Government directive to self-isolate for 14 days). We also request that if you are displaying any cold or flu like symptoms to avoid visiting any of our villages. We have made some changes to our operations, for example postponing public events and only conducting private sales tours of our villages.

if you have any questions, please contact your local village directly.

18 March 2020 - Visitors to our aged care services

This morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced new restrictions for visitors to residential aged care services. The Chief Medical Officer has advised aged care services commence precautionary measures to protect the most vulnerable members of our community from COVID-19. In response Churches of Christ in Queensland has now implemented the following measures across our services to ensure the health and wellbeing of our residents:

  • Only essential visits allowed
  • All visits are restricted to a maximum of one hour per visit
  • A maximum of two visitors per resident at one time
  • Visits must be conducted in a resident's room, not in communal or outdoor areas
  • Visitors are to practice social distancing and remain a distance of 1.5m from other people
  • Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to enter any of our aged care services
  • All large group visits are ceased, including school and kindy groups
  • Group social activities (including external entertainment) have been suspended

13 March 2020 - Message from CEO Gary Edwards

On 30 January 2020, WHO declared COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The Australian Government has issued a health alert as a precaution, based on the latest and best medical advice. It was declared a pandemic by the WHO on 12 March.

We are committed to the health and wellbeing of those in our care, as well as our staff and volunteers. We are implementing strategies to prevent the spread of the virus and workplace contingencies in response to the developing situation. We are constantly monitoring the situation, and at this time there are no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 across any of our services or offices.

What we are doing

Churches of Christ in Queensland is closely monitoring the growing COVID-19 (coronavirus) emergency and a taskforce has been established to manage our response to the impacts and threats of the virus across the organisation. The taskforce has developed plans to manage business continuity (including human resources and procurement), clinical response and communication.

We are following the official advice of the Australian Government regarding staff self-quarantine requirements if they have travelled to a country with a current moderate or higher alert and/or if they have come in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID- 19.

We have rolled out additional education in infection control and hygiene, with staff completing additional refresher training. A good hygiene campaign has also been released throughout our services and offices. We are providing the latest information to staff to ensure that they are aware of the current situation and what we are doing and will be communicating to our clients, residents and families regularly.

We have assessed and are monitoring our stocks of personal protective equipment (including masks, hand sanitiser, gloves, toilet paper and so on), ensuring our stock is stored securely and our services can access them promptly when required.

We are also working closely with relevant government departments and official agencies in providing a coordinated response and appreciate their direction and action at this time.

Business continuity

Our agility at this time is crucial and we have contingency plans for the scenarios that may play out in the coming days, weeks and months, including in the case of an outbreak. Our vulnerable clients and residents will continue to receive the highest quality of care and are not put at any undue risk.

Visiting our services

In response to the latest directions from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Chief Medical Officer on 18 March, Churches of Christ in Queensland has now updated and implemented additional measures across our services.

Only essential visits are allowed. Visitors who have returned from overseas or have been in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days will not be able to visit our services and in particular our residential aged care services. Anyone with a fever, symptoms of a respiratory illness, or who has not been vaccinated against influenza, will not permitted to enter the service.

All visits are now restricted to a maximum of one (1) hour per visit, with a limit of two visitors per resident at one time. Visits must now be conducted in the resident's room only, not in communal or outdoor areas.

All visitors are required to wash their hands before entering and leaving a resident's room and practise social distancing by remaining a distance of 1.5m from other people. Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to enter any of our aged care services. All large group visits have been ceased, including school and kindy groups. Group social activities, including external entertainment have also now been suspended.

The latest information regarding self-quarantine can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel- coronavirus-2019-ncov. This website provides the latest official health warnings and updates and is the source we are guided by. At this time we do ask that you remain calm and follow the advice from the Department of Health.

Stop the spread

It is everyone's responsibility to observe good hygiene to prevent not only the possible spread of coronavirus, but also colds and flu as we enter into the cooler months. We want everyone across our communities to remain healthy and stop the spread of illness.

The Department of Health has issued the following advice in relation to preventing the spread of viruses:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds
  • use a tissue and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • implement social distancing - avoid close contact with others, such as touching.

The health and wellbeing of our residents, clients and staff is at the centre of everything we do and we are taking the risk posed by COVID-19 extremely seriously. We will provide regular updates regarding the ongoing and developing issue and how it is impacting Churches of Christ in Queensland.

Health officials are doing a thorough job at delivering the latest information and managing the situation, and we will continue to follow their advice. If you have any questions and concerns relating to COVID-19 and Churches of Christ in Queensland, please contact communications@cofcqld.com.au.

Kind regards

Gary Edwards

Chief Executive Officer

Churches of Christ in Queensland