Mackay aged care homes prepare for potential lockdowns
FAMILIES should ensure their relatives in rural aged care homes are well prepared for potential lockdowns in the weeks and months ahead.
The warning from Australia's key medical organisations comes as several aged care homes across the southeast were locked down on Sunday in response to the COVID-19 scare.
While Mackay aged care homes are not affected, Francis of Assisi Home in West Mackay has started preparing in the event of a local case.
"We're definitely not in a lockdown, but we have got preparations in case we will be," the home's director of nursing Pauline Bonavia said.
"We are more stringent on people visiting and screening everyone that comes in.
"Visitors must have the flu vaccination, must wash their hands, haven't been in hot spots and haven't been in touch with anyone with COVID-19."
Good Shepherd Lodge chief executive Therese White said it had a detailed outbreak management plan that would be implemented if necessary.
"The Public Health Unit is working with all aged care facilities to plan for a potential outbreak and what actions would be required to be taken by the facility and the Public Health Unit," Ms White said.
"The residents, visitors and staff of both facilities are our priority at this time."
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine said while lockdowns may not eventuate, it was better for families to be prepared early.
ACRRM president Ewen McPhee said if one case of coronavirus was confirmed in a rural aged care facility - it would likely be placed in lockdown quickly.
"We recommend that families speak with their relative's aged care facility about how they will manage COVID-positive patients, and the clinical pathways they will have in place for these patients," Dr McPhee said.
RDAA president John Hall said families should work now to assess their relative's needs should their facility go into lockdown.
"For example, if they go into lockdown, do they have a laptop with broadband or a smartphone they can use to keep in touch with you … and do they know how to use it?" Dr Hall said.
"We would also strongly suggest residents in aged care put in place an Advanced Care Plan to help guide their clinical management should they contract COVID-19 and need intensive care."
He also urged relatives and staff entering aged care facilities to be thorough with hand hygiene and infection control.
"Please ensure you are washing your hands thoroughly before entering and while inside an aged care facility, and strongly consider wearing a mask while there, even if it is not a legal requirement," Dr Hall said.
"And it goes without saying that, if you have even the mildest of symptoms, please stay away from the facility, get tested, and isolate until you get your result."
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young has ordered tougher restrictions for aged care homes in Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, Redland and Gold Coast city local government areas, as well as the Scenic Rim regional local government area.
From August 2, no personal visitors will be allowed at aged care homes in these areas and anyone entering them must wear a single use surgical face mask.
Residents cannot leave the aged care facility unless they are receiving health care, attending a funeral or for emergency and compassionate reasons.
"This is the best way we can protect the lives of Queenslanders, including those who are most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19," Health Minister Steven Miles said.