COVID-19: Aged care staff working to keep Central West homes virus free

VIRUS FREE: No coronavirus cases have been recorded at any of Opal Aged Care's Central West homes. Photo: AMY MCINTYRE
VIRUS FREE: No coronavirus cases have been recorded at any of Opal Aged Care's Central West homes. Photo: AMY MCINTYRE

WITH hundreds of at-risk residents in four aged care facilities in the Central West, Opal Aged Care staff say they're doing everything to keep people safe.

Aged care facilities have come under fire in NSW and Victoria after outbreaks of COVID-19 have left frail and aged people dead.

In the Central West, Opal has four facilities which are located in Bathurst, Dubbo, Mudgee and Orange.

Opal spokeswoman Rosanne Cartwright said a number of precautions are in place to protect residents and staff.

"Active screening of all team and visitors is undertaken and is one of our strongest lines of defence," she said.

"It includes temperature check and answering a series of questions around a person's health and visits to at-risk local government areas as advised by the Department of Health.

Active screening of all team and visitors is undertaken and is one of our strongest lines of defence.

Opal Aged Care spokeswoman Rosanne Cartwright

"All team and visitors are required to ensure hand and respiratory hygiene at all times and to practice spatial distancing as much as possible while in our home."

Ms Cartwright said staff continued to practice hyper-vigilance around infection control, and each home has a COVID-19 plan in place that is reviewed and assessed regularly, both internally by Opal and by the regulator.

Visitors are still allowed at the Central West homes, but numbers have been reduced.

"Where it is not essential to visit in person, we ask that visitors help us to keep our residents and team safe by considering alternative ways of connecting, using technology we have in our homes, such as Zoom, Skype or FaceTime calls, having window visits, or through emails, postcards, letters and phone calls," Ms Cartwright said.

"We recognise how difficult it is for loved ones to be separated and our team continue to focus on enabling meaningful connections throughout the pandemic."

Ms Cartwright said staff had seen the joy that FaceTiming can bring residents in the evening to say goodnight or Zooming with family for an occasion that may otherwise have been missed.

"Residents have enjoyed learning to use new technologies and these important connections have become part of life in our homes, just as they are in the community," she said.

Ms Cartwright thanked families and the community for its support during the pandemic.

"We believe human connection is at the heart of wellbeing and we are reminded of this every day in the way the community has rallied together to support one another through COVID," she said.

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This story Opal staff working to keep homes coronavirus-free first appeared on Western Advocate.