Initiatives support visitation to aged care homes

HammondCare continues to maintain access for visitors to our residential care homes and is supporting this with a number of initiatives including a new Visitors Concierge, a survey of residents and families and new ways to stay in touch.

While many aged care providers have closed their homes and excluded all ‘non essential’ visitors, HammondCare seeks to carefully manage the risk of allowing visitor access, recognising that social engagement with visitors is of significant importance to residents when we are faced with the uncertain timeframes that may be ahead.

It is likely the COVID-19 situation will not be short-term and so it is important to ensure people are able to visit loved ones during this time as they are able.

New Visitor Concierge supports visitors, residents and staff

HammondCare is working within Australian Government guidelines to allow one visitor per day for an hour for each resident, outside of busy times such as mealtimes, and with visits occurring in the resident’s room or outdoors.

Enabling staff and volunteers have been deployed to our residential services in the role of Visitor Concierge to welcome visitors, confirm the purpose of the visit, who they are visiting, screen for health issues, check if a visit is possible within guidelines and assist in bringing the visit to an end when appropriate. This provides confidence for the visitor, their loved one, other residents, families and staff that resident safety is not being compromised. At the same time, it allows care staff to continue to focus on the direct needs of residents.

Visitor Concierge volunteers who meet all requirements are also being sought from the community. Interested people should not approach care homes directly, but use this application portal.

New ways to stay in touch

Even with visitor access continuing, the Government-initiated limitations may mean family and friends are not seeing aged care residents as frequently as in the past. For this reason, HammondCare is fast tracking innovative ideas to enable residents and their family and friends to keep in touch.

HammondCare has written to all resident representatives to alert them to these alternative contact ideas, including a new email address by which family and friends can send messages, letters, photos and videos which will be shared directly with residents. This might include a video of grandchildren waving hello, a quick family update, a selfie or a heart-felt letter, to name a few.

Please call 1800 776 112 if you are resident representative and haven’t received information about this email access.

As well, HammondCare staff will help assist with a phone call or video-calling applications such as Skype and this can be arranged directly with residential care staff at the care home. To find contact details for each care home visits hammond.com.au/locations.

Finally, family and friends are always encouraged to send items through the post such as letters, artworks from children, a favourite trinket or a book to read. Other ideas might include drawing materials such as pencils and a notebook, for example. Please see care home postal addresses at hammond.com.au/locations.

Hearing people's preferences

As we continue to monitor changes to government guidelines, HammondCare believes that continuing to allow visitors is the best approach because of the length of time Covid-19 health restrictions may be in force.

While HammondCare is confident this is in the best interest of residents, it is also important to capture the direct feedback of residents and families in regard to the visitation approach.

A survey is being distributed to residents and their representatives so they can share their views on the current policy of allowing limited visitation within government guidelines.

HammondCare continues to follow the advice from the Department of Health and if visitor guidelines did need to change, clear, timely communication will be prioritised for residents and families.

Visitor guidelines

For a full list of visitor guidelines, see our update from March 24.