Govt issues guidance for aged care providers

Ashley Bloomfield
Ashley Bloomfield
All aged care facilities have been ordered to have clear and prominent health warnings on display concerning Covid-19.

The move, announced by director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield yesterday, was designed to afford further protection to the elderly, a demographic which is particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Dunedin facilities contacted by the Otago Daily Times had not heard Dr Bloomfield’s instruction, but said they had already taken similar measures themselves.

‘‘We already have notices on our doors, both at Sheen St and at Wakari, advising people to not enter if they have been to certain parts of the world in recent times,’’ Leslie Groves acting facility manager Brian Tegg said.

‘‘We set up a Covid-19 planning committee 10 days ago and we had our second meeting today.’’

A study by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of more than 44,000 Covid-19 cases in that country found the death rate was 10 times higher in the very elderly compared to the middle-aged.

That pattern is repeating in Italy, which has gone into total lockdown to try to prevent the disease spreading.

‘‘We took part in a Southern District Health Board presentation today and they highlighted that so far it is the over 80s that have the highest risk factor,’’ Mr Tegg said.

‘‘They are around about 15% of cases and it is very much on our mind ... we have been checking our inventory of supplies, we have been checking contingency plans for operating off site if required.

‘‘All of those factors have taken into consideration.’’

Radius Fulton chief operations officer Jane Smart said all facilities, including its Dunedin home, had posted health warning notices more than a week ago, and family warned if they were ill they could not visit their relatives.

‘‘They just cannot put our residents at risk; we are not even saying please, they cannot come in,’’ she said.

‘‘[Dunedin manager] Robyn Bowie is working with the SDHB and Public Health, and we follow the guidelines from the ministry and SDHB.’’

Radius reviewed all its stocks and supplies some weeks ago, and the firm felt comfortable it was well-placed, she said.

‘‘We are considering our staff as well and making sure that they know what they need to do.’’

SDHB Covid-19 planning executive lead Gail Thomson said the board had contacted its aged care providers, and directed them to the ministry for advice.

Dr Bloomfield said anyone who was unwell should not visit a rest-home or aged care facility and delay any visit until 48 hours after they were well again.

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