Call for clarity on just what lockdown means

Just what does lockdown mean for aged care residents, COTA SA wants to know

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Answers sought on visitor bans, room confinement, phone access, family support.


AGED care providers are being tested as never before as the number of covid cases in SA continues to rise, according to the state's peak seniors organisation,

With more than a third of aged care homes in lockdown, and more expected to follow, COTA SA has expressed serious concerns to SA Health and the premier about the management of Covid-19 within the system

Chief executive Jane Mussared said COTA SA continues to receive feedback from older people and their families relating to the interpretation and experience of what a "lockdown" means for aged care residents.

This includes:

  • Some aged care providers choosing to prohibit visitors altogether despite an agreement by peak bodies to the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19that even in an outbreak a person should have access to one essential visitor.
  • No agreed maximum limits on room confinement, with feedback that their loved ones have been confined to their room for weeks, despite having no symptoms or testing positive to COVID-19.
  • Staffing being so limited in some facilities that residents are not being assisted to connect with family via phone or Facetime and willing family members not able to support in providing care.
  • Asymptomatic and non-COVID-positive residents not being able to leave a facility to visit loved ones.

"The ambiguity that continues to exist around managing such outbreaks along with the shortage of staff contributes to a melting pot of challenges that need urgent attention," Ms Mussared said.

"COTA SA is of course very mindful of the extreme stress on aged care providers and workers and on health staff, which is over and above what was an already significant workload. We thank them for their focus and dedication.

"While there is considerable goodwill and intent, there is an inordinate amount of time spent chasing testing, PPE, staff and in understanding rule changes. This reduces and compromises the time and innovation spent in care and in facilitating decent life outcomes for aged care residents.

"As a society we cannot ask aged care residents to do isolation tougher and for longer than we have asked of any other group in South Australia.

"We need to ensure the management plan for aged care strikes a better balance between the safety of the residents and their emotional wellbeing and we look forward to the leadership of the state and federal governments to ensure a better balance for aged care residents as a matter of urgency."