New guidelines support older people to receive visitors in aged care homes
All aged care residents should have access to at least one visitor at all times, including during management of outbreak or exposure provided they meet certain principles.
Please refer to the Department of Health’s Managing Public Health Restrictions on Residential Aged Care Facilities – Industry code.
“We have been calling for careful changes to visitation rules for many months now – and we welcome these adjustments which will no doubt improve the wellbeing of our older Australians,” Craig Gear, CEO OPAN said.
Read OPAN’s recent media release on the new visitation guidelines.
Essential visitors are any of the following:
Partners in care: A person who frequently visits a resident in aged care to provide companionship and aspects of regular routine care, such as support with meals. This may be someone who is a family member, friend or representative providing care and companionship to that person.
Named visitor: If a resident does not have a Partner-in-Care, they may nominate one person to be a named visitor. A named visitor can include a family member, friend, volunteer, or power of attorney if the resident wishes.
End of life: Visits to residents at or approaching the end of life should be facilitated for anyone and not be time limited. This may include facilitating out of hours visiting.
Read the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission factsheet outlining the position on provider responsibilities relating to visitor access.
As Australia’s peak body for individual aged care advocacy support, we have welcomed the careful opening of residential aged care facilities. The Department of Health recently released the Interim Guidance allowing for greater flexibility in balancing the need to reduce transmission of COVID-19 against the impact of social isolation on residents.
We are pleased that under the changes, each aged care resident can be visited by one essential visitor at all times, including during management of outbreak or exposure.
“The real risks created by COVID need to be assessed against the broader impacts of extended restrictions on the overall health and wellbeing of older people in aged care,” Mr Gear said.
To help aged care residents and their families understand these changes, we hosted a free webinar with a panel of aged care and medical professionals on Monday, 21 February. Watch the replay and access the resources here.
Please contact our team for free and confidential advocacy support or if you have issues with visitors in your aged care home.
This article was originally posted on 16 February 2022 and updated on 4 March 2022.