Rest-homes on short fuse to lockdown

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Some rest-homes may go back into lockdown at the first sign of community transmission of Covid-19.

While it would not necessarily be required by the Ministry of Health, some said they would take precautions to protect vulnerable elderly residents.

It follows a week-long lockdown at Dunedin’s St Andrew’s Enliven home after a respiratory infection outbreak.

Presbyterian Support Otago chief executive Jo Rowe said a unit at the home was locked down from July 27 to August 3.

"We followed the correct procedures based on our extensive infection control policies, communications with Public Health South and the DHB," she said.

Each resident and staff member in the unit were tested for Covid-19 and all returned negative results.

"The outbreak was well contained within a single unit and all residents and staff are recovering."

Should community transmission of Covid-19 be evident, the organisation would "move quickly to ascertain the risk of infection in our homes and aim to mitigate this risk".

"Should it be decided at the risk assessment stage that lockdown was necessary for protection, we would implement this as quickly as possible, ensuring communication and support to all families affected by this change."

Aged Care Association board member Malcolm Hendry was aware of recent outbreaks of gastroenteritis and influenza-like illnesses.

"I suspect that facilities are being a lot more cautious around those types of outbreaks at the moment," he said.

Residents with symptoms were given Covid-19 tests, he said. Staff were also tested.

Mr Hendry, who is also the chief executive of Dunedin’s Birchleigh Residential Care Centre and Chatsford Lifestyle Community, said the facilities would probably go back into lockdown if community transmission was detected.

They had informed staff and the families of residents it could happen at short notice, so they would be prepared.

"We’ve just got to be so careful about maintaining our bubble."

Many rest-homes were still taking extra precautions, such as having visitors signing in and out and wearing masks.

Invercargill’s Clare House Retirement Village general manager Lynley Irvine said if there was community transmission, they would meet and determine the next steps.

"This is very high in our minds," she said. "We need to be prepared, and we are thinking about it all the time."

They were being guided by Ministry of Health advice, she said.

daisy.hudson@odt.co.nz

 

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