Concern aged care visitor restrictions will leave vulnerable residents at risk

Concern aged care visitor restrictions in Tasmania will leave vulnerable residents at risk

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Visits to aged care facilities, except for end of life support, have been suspended in Tasmania.


A temporary ban on visits to aged care facilities in Tasmania may put the vulnerable at risk says Equal Opportunity Tasmania.

Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Sarah Bolt said with the doors to these facilities now closed a crucial aspect of oversight had been lost.

"When the doors were open, friends, family, volunteers and a wide array of service providers from hairdressers to clinical therapists were a valuable means of oversight as to what happens in aged care facilities," Ms Bolt said.

"The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is a product of the fact that left unchecked, unscrupulous facilities will engage in management decisions or care practices which are deficient. As a result, people have prematurely died or their lives have been haunted by neglect, abuse, misery, intimidation or loneliness.

"The Royal Commission has confirmed that there are pockets within the aged care industry with a grim history of breaching trust even when the doors are wide open."

Ms Bolt called on anyone with genuine reason to believe an aged care resident was at risk of physical or emotional harm to report their concerns to EOT. Reports can be made anonymously.

But Southern Cross Care chief executive Robyn Boyd said while SCC's nine facilities across Tasmania were closed to visitors care for residents had not changed.

She said SCC had an Outbreak Management team which met daily with facilities via virtual meetings to ensure all aspects of care and communication were maintained.

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"All care has continued as usual but for the increase of additional roles to support the use of technology to maintain social engagement with families and friends," Ms Boyd said.

"A new role of concierge was created to support restricted access early on, however this role has now adapted and provides additional supports where required to residents in the absence of family and friends.

"In addition, the activity programs have adapted to the new requirements of social distancing ensuring access to social opportunities for engagement with other residents, for example, corridor bingo and streamed religious services."

Ms Boyd said allied health services remained in place within the facilities to ensure exercise programs continued for residents.

"iPads and other devices are being used to maintain access to GPs for virtual consultations and medical rounds during the restricted access," she said.

A resident a Yaraandoo aged care facility at Somerset who was in isolation after she was exposed to a nurse at the North West Regional Hospital has not developed any COVID-19 symptoms and will come out of quarantine this Saturday.

The nurse ended up testing negative for COVID-19 but the resident remained isolated as a precaution.

"The resident is generally very well and in good spirits with isolated staff caring for her every need," Ms Boyd said.

Premier Peter Gutwein said he did not think aged care homes would use the lockdown as an opportunity to mistreat their residents.

"We have just been through a Royal Commission. I would think that most aged care homes are pretty much on notice at the moment to do the right thing by the person they are caring for," Mr Gutwein said.

He said while it had been a difficult decision to stop visits to aged care facilities, it had been done in the interest of protecting the most vulnerable Tasmanians and the restrictions would be kept in place for a while yet.

The story Concern aged care visitor restrictions will leave vulnerable residents at risk first appeared on The Advocate.