Protecting residents and staff in residential care across the Lakes DHB area
Over recent weeks, Lakes DHB management and clinical nurse educator have been working with all 13 age related residential care facilities to ensure that everything possible is being done to protect vulnerable older people living in rest homes, along with staff working in the sector.
The DHB’s portfolio manager for Health of Older People, Vanessa Russell says the facilities have put in place a no visitor process, have access to PPE and have upskilled staff on the use of PPE and on the importance of hand washing techniques.
“The providers have been proactive in ensuring that the residents’ risk of becoming infected is very low. There are national guidelines to support the staff of these facilities from possible risks from any outside contact, such as new admissions or visiting health professionals,” said Vanessa Russell.
This week, in light of the outbreaks in other residential care facilities in New Zealand, Lakes DHB will be contacting all the providers again to ensure that they are confident with their policies, procedures and staff awareness on how to remain safe from COVID 19 infection.
Lakes DHB has checked with its aged residential care providers on three occasions in recent weeks and there is now a process in place to ensure that they have access to PPE from Lakes DHB. Discussion has also gone on between the DHB and providers about the need to follow Ministry of Health advice on the use of PPE.
The aged care providers are well aware of the need to stop visitors, in line with their previous experience of viral infection /gastro-intestinal outbreaks.
Vanessa Russell says the no visitors rules were enforced earlier than when Alert Level 4 was imposed, and the DHB has since checked this approach by phone calls and visits.
GPs’ contact is now virtual with providers, district nurses are only visiting for the residents who need that level of expertise and hospice registered nurses likewise moved to virtual contact.
Vanessa Russell says all of this will hopefully stop the risk from outside visitors, leaving risk of infection being from staff and any new admissions. Any new admissions are only for people living in the Lakes DHB area.
Consistent, regular contact with the managers of aged residential care including a site visit has all helped reinforce the good work by providers. Lakes DHB has wanted to ensure that all providers have:
- A COVID 19 related pandemic plan
- PPE supplies and supply chain to DHB stores known
- All staff retrained / reviewed on hand washing technique and when it’s important to be used
- Use of PPE – most providers have developed training resources – such as videos and know how to access DHB training resources
- Planning for staff reduction - providers had considered impact of small numbers of staff on leave, many had increased their casual pool at support worker and RN levels.
This week, in light of the outbreaks in other residential care facilities in NZ Lakes DHB will be contacting all the providers again to ensure that they are confident with their policies, procedures and staff awareness on how to remain safe from COVID 19 infection.