Education Update: COVID-19

(21 July 2020)

As this COVID-19 pandemic continues to gather pace across Victoria and now New South Wales we need to again highlight to all of our staff what we can do to limit the risk of its spread and most importantly protect those in our care who are most vulnerable to this virus.  

As of this morning forty (40) Residential Aged Care facilities in Victoria are now battling COVID-19 and the survival rates for our much loved elderly residents are very low.  One nursing home that was particularly impacted had fifty (50) staff that were forced to self-isolate and during that time agency staff were required to ensure care to their vulnerable residents was able to be continued.

We have been advised that due to this growing risk, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer (CHO) is likely to issue a Health Direction in the very near future that would apply to nurses and carers who work across multiple facilities should an outbreak occur in Queensland.

It is understood the CHO will recommend that staff who work across multiple facilities wear appropriate PPE to minimise the spread of COVID-19, and that employers minimise staff working across multiple aged care facilities.

We understand this direction would be restricted to the aged care sector and multi-purpose health facilities.  Many of our agency staff are already on contract with the one aged care provider to ensure both continuity of staff and also continuity of work.  This may become a priority for us as we continue to customise our services to this rapidly changing environment. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment is our best frontline protection against both becoming infected with or spreading the COVID–19 virus to others. Alison McMillan, Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer has created a short five (5) minute online training video to advise how to best utilise PPE in an aged care environment.

We already have some residential aged care facilities requesting that you wear a face mask throughout your entire shift at their facility.  This is to ensure that should you be COVID-19 positive but asymptomatic (i.e. have the virus but show no symptoms) you will significantly reduce the risk of you transmitting this virus to their residents or staff.  These facilities will provide you with a face mask if required.

We maintain our position at the Heather Hill Group that if you have:

  • any cold or flu like symptoms;
  • have a family member with cold or flu like symptoms;
  • have a family member who is COVID–19 positive;
  • have any family member who has been in close proximity with a COVID-19 positive person; or
  • have travelled interstate in the last fourteen days.

You must notify the office for a 14 day exclusion period or until you can provide us with a certificate that shows you are COVID-19 negative.

Heather Hill Group Training Quiz on COVID-19

Please watch the Australian Government five (5) minute video above and then complete the below short quiz. 

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I am very confident that many of you will be required to adopt a full PPE protocol as a  precautionary measure in the coming weeks and months. These protocols will be for both your protection and the protection of those in your care.

Be Ready, Trained and Informed and remember we are on the other end of the phone if you have any questions.  Any staff who have significant health conditions including diabetes, heart, kidney complaints or auto-immune conditions should flag to the call centre that they will not be available for a Covid -19 response.

Also remember when you come home from work (in a COVID-19 Lockdown scenario) to leave your shoes at the front door, pop your bag into a box at the front door and clean down the steering wheel, door handles (car and home), bag and shoes with an antiseptic wipe.  Head straight to the shower and pop your clothes straight into the washing machine.  Shower thoroughly including your hair then throw on your comfy clothes and have a relaxing evening.

Thank you for your ongoing care and support of all our residents and home care clients, we appreciate all your care and kindness and hope we can avoid this deadly virus in all of our workplaces.

Warm regards,