Bulletin 7

April 2020

COVID-19 Information

Australia is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus now named COVID-19, first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Health authorities are continuing to update advice.

At the time of writing this bulletin, 375 cases had been found in Australia, 68 in Queensland, and five people have sadly died.

Lutheran Services, as a department of the Lutheran Church Queensland District, is cooperating with evolving health advice from the Australian Government.

Our commitment is to remain vigilant to government directions, support the government’s containment strategies and practice prevention procedures.

Update

No Lutheran Services site has reported any cases of confirmed COVID-19.

We are following the Australian Government’s protocols in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities as well as other government travel restrictions and personal hygiene advice for our other retirement and community services.

We have established a response team to ensure our planning and response to the evolving situation is comprehensive and on track.

The team is implementing our Emergency Response and Continuity Plan. Each of our services have also been implementing their own site-specific action plan.

All sites have stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies.

We have refreshed our staff training on infection control practices and procedures.

We are keeping all of our Aged Care, Home Care, Retirement Living and Community Services clients informed with updates of what they need to do to stop the spread, as well as our actions to keep them and our staff safe.

Aged Care Services

In line with advice from the Australian Government, Lutheran Services is implementing temporary changes to services and activities.

These changes currently include:

  • limiting family, friends and head office visits to the service
  • limiting supplier interaction with residents
  • restricting student nursing or personal care placements if their learning institution has been closed
  • postponing activities for older people including intergenerational programs, public events group exercise activities and bus trips
  • moving allied health clinics away from residential aged care facilities
  • calling ahead prior to in Home Care visits to determine any precautionary measures required
  • increasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), handwashing and sanitisation facilities across all sites

If we do have visitors for exceptional circumstances, they will be health screened and will be required to sign a declaration of health.

These are temporary measures for the safety of all our residents, staff, volunteers and students.

As COVID-19 related access restrictions escalate at our services we would like to enable our residents to stay connected with the people they love and enjoy.

So we are exploring ways to keep them connected with their family and friends whilst also maintaining a sense of wellbeing.

Some of the things we are working on are:

  • Increasing the use of technology to help residents communicate with their loved ones.
  • Offering alternative on-site social activities that limit exposure.
  • Continuing a business as usual approach to our exercise programs to keep moods boosted.

We are doing all we can to protect our residents, staff, students and volunteers.  Together we have the opportunity to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Information Links

You can access the latest advice and fact sheets from the Australian Government here:
https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert#current-status

The Australian COVID-19 hotline phone number is 1800 020 080.

The latest world-wide information is available at the World Health Organisation website here:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.

The health and safety of our residents, clients and their families and our staff is, of course, paramount and we thank you in advance for your cooperation and support as we navigate this situation.

If you would like to request further information on Lutheran Services’ response to the novel coronavirus please contact your local service manager or email me directly at contact@lutheranservices.org.au.

Nick Ryan
CEO Lutheran Services