Southern rest-homes 'fully prepared' for lockdown

Ryman Healthcare, which operates the Yvette Williams home on Highgate, Dunedin, boosted the value...
Ryman Healthcare, which operates the Yvette Williams home on Highgate, said it went into lockdown 'swiftly'. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Rest-homes in the South were quick to respond to the threat posed by community transmission of Covid-19.

Just as New Zealand Aged Care Association board member Malcolm Hendry had predicted less than a week ago, they prepared for immediate lockdowns when news came through last night of a fresh outbreak of the virus.

"We were fully prepared for it. We just hoped it wouldn't happen," Mr Hendry said.

"We were aware it was a possibility."

The Government has put Auckland into Alert Level 3 lockdown and placed the rest of New Zealand in Alert Level 2 from today until Friday after it was unclear how members of a family in Auckland had contracted the disease. That meant it could have been spreading in the community in recent weeks.

Mr Hendry, who is also Mosgiel's Birchleigh Residential Care Centre and Chatsford Lifestyle Community chief executive, said they had to assume the virus could potentially be in any part of the country.

"It was impossible to hold out forever. The question now is how well we can control it from this point."

Trades people were due on site today but their work had to be called off.

The Mosgiel site had two sets of policies - one for the retirement village, where restrictions need not be so tight, and the other for care facilities.

Friday's happy hour at the village had been cancelled because of uncertainty about being able to meet requirements such as physical distancing.

Dunedin Radius Fulton Rest Home and Hospital Care manager Robyn Bowie said rest-homes adjusted quickly when tight restrictions came in during March and they again had to take fast action.

Letters had been drafted and would be sent to families of residents.

At this stage, lockdowns were expected to be a short-term response but information would be reviewed daily.

Not everyone was aware of last night's developments - some visitors arrived at the Dunedin site this morning and had not heard the news about the change in alert levels, Ms Bowie said. 

Ryman Healthcare spokesman David King said the care centres at both the Yvette Williams Retirement Village and Frances Hodgkins Retirement Village in Dunedin went into lockdown swiftly.

Residents had access to devices where they could keep in touch with people via Zoom.

"We've prepared for this and we're working to keep everyone comfortable and safe."

At Invercargill, Waikiwi Gardens Rest Home owner Denzil Travers said families would have electronic forms of contact, including Facetime and Skype.

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