Media Release – New aged care code puts safety and older people first
The Older Persons’ Advocacy Network (OPAN) has helped to negotiate a new code for visitor access during the COVID-19 pandemic that balances safety and compassion.
OPAN helped negotiate the code between providers, government and the interests of older people.
“The new ‘Tiered Escalation’ model is a fantastic step forward and allows the situation to escalate or de-escalate depending on the COVID-19 situation a provider is facing, ” OPAN CEO Craig Gear said.
“Facilities should be at the lowest tier possible, visitation, with screening, needs to be the default approach.
“We have seen the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the lives of all Australians, and it continues to pose a risk to the community.
“As the aged care sector shifts from the recovery phase to ‘COVID-Normal’, we must continue to be mindful of the risk to the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable people, particularly those living in aged care facilities.
“Residents must have the right to have visitors, and we need to find ways to enable Australians in aged care to connect with their families and friends safely.
“The revised visitation guidelines will give residential aged care providers greater flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 situation they are facing
“The code also recognises the absolute the necessity of continued visits in all circumstances for people in aged care homes who are receiving palliative care and need the end of life, those with dementia in need of additional support and those with mental health issues.
“Even during a period when a facility needs to move to Tier 3, Residents who are dying should be allowed in-room visits from loved ones on a regular basis. The same for Residents who have a clearly established and regular pattern of involvement from visitors contributing to their care and support must continue to have these visits facilitated.
“Residents with a clear mental health issue should always continue to have their social and family connections maintained where it may contribute to relieving social and emotional distress for the resident whichever tier the facility is at,” Mr Gear said.