Late last night residential aged care providers in NSW received advice from NSW Health about additional measures required to be put in place in response to the increasing numbers of COVID-19 positive cases. A copy of the correspondence is attached for your information.

We have also been carefully monitoring the local risks in our area and have noted a number of local venues have had reports of positive cases in in someone who has visited, or works in, venues in the Canterbury Bankstown LGA and some of them are close to BCAC facilities. The venues are:

  • Frankie’s Food Factory in Flower Power at Milperra
  • A worker at Meat Perfection in Milperra has tested positive
  • Bankstown YMCA located on River Rd Revesby
  • Zone Bowling Club at Villawood
  • Mancinis restaurant at Belmore
  • Canterbury Leagues Club (which closed for cleaning)

In the attached advice from Dr Kerry Chant only residential aged care facilities in the local government areas (LGA’s) of Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly need to lockdown the facilities to all visitors.  Permission in these LGA’s is required from the Public Health Unit for any visits, including for palliative care residents.

Although BCAC facilities are not in the LGA’s referred to in Dr Chant’s advice the small number of new cases in venues close to our facilities has triggered a review of our current strategies, including our visiting restrictions. In addition, most of our staff and families reside in, or frequently visit, the targeted LGAs.

We believe that it is important to proactively implement additional measures not currently required by NSW Health and we have not made these decisions lightly. Two important changes to information conveyed to you earlier this week are:

1.  Effective immediately 100% of staff will be required to wear a mask in our facilities (not just those that live in the LGA’s listed in NSW Health’s advice)

2.  Visiting will be restricted to residents needing end of life care and support from families. Bookings will need to be made by calling the Manager to discuss further. Monitoring of the local cases will be reviewed daily and as soon as practicable the visiting restrictions will be modified to resume visiting. We need time to monitor what is happening in our local area over the next critical few days to see if the case numbers increase.  We absolutely commit to keeping this period of lockdown (except for palliative care reasons) to a minimum and appreciate your support and understanding at this time.  Our priority is the balancing of the risks to our residents with the need for family and social connection and we recognise this is important to get right.  We will continue connecting families and friends with the residents through technology and if you have any concerns please contact the manager to discuss further.

In addition to these measures our stringent additional cleaning processes with anti-viral products are continuing.  The cost to BCAC of this additional cleaning since March 2020 has been over $120,000.  We have also reinforced staff training on all the important infection control measures and will continue to support staff to manage the risk COVID poses to our vulnerable residents.  We continue to screen our staff for all of the recommended risks including new additions to the identified hotspot zones as they become known.

We have also sought advice from NSW Health if GP’s and other allied health practitioners who work in LGA’s affected by COVID are permitted to enter the facility.  We will follow the recommendations once we receive it.

Updates will be provided to families and residents as the situation evolves.

Deborah Key