Partnering in Care Program a winner at keeping residents connected during lockdowns

Tina Weatherley with mum Concetta Gato

HammondCare’s innovative Partnering in Care Program that enabled face-to-face visits to residential care homes to continue through the COVID-19 lockdowns has been recognised by a prestigious award.

About 1800 family and friends of HammondCare residents have completed the online and virtual workshops that provide training in COVID-safe practices, infection control, hygiene and general care since the program was launched last year.

The free program’s success has been formally acknowledged in the NSW/ACT 2021 ACSA Aged Care Awards held yesterday with a win in the Innovation in Service or Design category.

HammondCare Chief Operating and Risk Officer Angela Raguz, who received the award on HammondCare’s behalf during an online event, said the program had enabled essential visits to continue in a measured and intelligent way.

“We recognised early that COVID-19 was a marathon and we needed to provide a way for visits to continue a safe way to ensure the social wellbeing of our residents,” Ms Raguz said.

“We are proud to have developed a way for visits to continue as we know physical and social isolation can have an impact on residents.”

HammondCare developed the training in July 2020 following a survey which showed that most residents and family supported continued visits, even with the heightened risk. At the start, part of the training was undertaken in a face-to-face session, but this was later replaced by an online workshop.

The numbers of people wanting to do the course increased sharply with the beginning of the Sydney Delta outbreak in June. Completion of the course meant essential visits could continue during lockdowns, except where state or federal government directions prohibit this.  

Ms Raguz said the Partnering in Care Program now may be widened to include other areas where families and loved ones of someone in a residential aged care home may benefit from training.

“With aged care homes now opening up to visitors, we expect there to be less demand for the Partnering in Care Program training in its present form, but there are other areas where we can offer training to help the families of our residents.”

“The Partnering in Care Program has generated plenty of momentum and we don’t want to waste this.”

Examples of further training programs for families and loved ones in residential aged care could include practical ways to support a resident living with dementia and how to make sometimes awkward visits more meaningful for both parties.

Tina Weatherley is among those who have benefited from the program so she could continue essential visits to her mum, Concetta Gatto, 93, a resident with high care needs at HammondCare’s Harding cottages at Hammondville.

“The training has been great because as it has enabled me to continue to see my mum as an essential care provider at a time when I know many others with family in care can’t,” Mrs Weatherley said.