Visiting loved ones in residential aged care at Christmas

COVID-19 remains a serious concern in residential aged care homes across Australia this Christmas, once again.

As at 14 December, there were 2,126 active cases of COVID-19 in residential aged care homes with active outbreaks in 324 residential aged care facilities, with 137 new outbreaks, 17 new resident deaths and 1,774 combined new resident and staff cases reported since 7 December.

Obviously, stay home if you have any cold or flu symptoms. This is to help protect other people.

Before you visit a loved one

Always be up to date with the advice for residential aged care facilities on the appropriate State and Territory Government's website. Also, contact the facility to check if visiting arrangements have changed.

Do not enter the facility if you have

  • tested positive to COVID-19. Visitors should not enter a high risk setting for at least 7 days after their positive test. Stay home and follow the advice for people testing positive.
  • any cold or flu symptoms.
  • Aged and disability care facilities may ask you to take additional precautions while visiting such as wearing a mask or doing a rapid antigen test.

Exceptions apply, such as if you are a resident at the facility, or you have permission from the facility to visit in exceptional circumstances (e.g. end-of-life visits).

Saviour Buhagiar, Uniting’s Director of Seniors Services, said they adopt the guidelines provided by NSW Health.

"Vaccination remains a critical tool in reducing transmission and minimising the severity of COVID-19 infections. It is essential for protecting the health and wellbeing of residents, especially given the vulnerability of people living in our aged care homes," Saviour said.

"Currently in our Sydney services and other homes across the State we are asking staff and visitors to both wear masks when in close contact with residents, and to undertake regular RAT tests prior to entering our homes. 

"We adapt the preventative measures implemented in each home based on own risk assessment and guidance from health authorities. Our approach is focussed on maintaining as safe an environment as possible for residents and staff, whilst recognising that our services are people’s homes."

Keeping a loved one in aged care safe over Christmas

  • Stay up to date with your recommended vaccinations launch, including COVID-19 and flu.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Frequently wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub (sanitiser).
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissues or a flexed elbow. Wash or sanitise your hands and dispose of tissues in a bin immediately.
  • Hold visits outdoors or in well-ventilated areas away from other residents if possible.

Agedcare101 wishes everyone working in residential aged care and all residents in residential aged care a safe and enjoyable Christmas.

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A special thanks to our contributors

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Journalist

Journalist

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

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Ian Horswill

Journalist

Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

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Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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Jill Donaldson

Physiotherapist

Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

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Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

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Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.