At HelloCare, many of our readers are aged care workers. We receive numerous comments on our social media posts and articles about working in aged care, and we also often receive questions, particularly lately, as the guidelines for aged care adjust in the shifting sands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below, we have provided guidance on some of the questions put to us recently; we hope to provide some clarity in the current highly complex and constantly evolving environment.
These questions have come from our Melbourne readers.
Q: Are carers allowed to continue visiting their home care clients?
A: The Victorian government considers home care services to be essential in protecting the most vulnerable members of the community during the pandemic.
Home care services that provide “essential” care and support should continue to be provided, but at the same time, where possible, face-to-face contact should be minimised.
It is up to the provider and the care recipient to determine what an essential service is.
Services should be prioritised for those who do not have family or other support, and who cannot care for themselves, even with prompting, encouragement or self-management.
When direct care can not be provided, it is up to the provider and the care recipient to ensure that alternative support is put in place.
When visiting a home care client, reduce face-to-face interaction as much as possible, and practice physical distancing when you can. Always practice good hand hygiene.
Use PPE in accordance with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Service’s guidelines.
Q: Are cleaners allowed to continue visiting their home care clients?
A: Cleaning that is considered necessary to maintain good hygiene and a safe environment is considered “essential” and should continue where possible.
Q: My home care client has cold-like symptoms. What should I do?
A: Where possible, the appointment should be postponed.
If face-to-face support is considered essential, a short home visit can be completed by a worker wearing full PPE if they have to come into close contact with the client.
Click here to see the DHHS guide for the use of PPE for community service providers.
Q: My home care client has COVID-19. Can I still visit them?
A: The DHHS recommends that home care services be conducted remotely.
However, when face-to-face support is considered essential, a short home visit can be conducted by a worker wearing full PPE.
Click here to link to the DHHS guide for the use of PPE for community service providers.
Q: Can I take my aged care client shopping?
A: No. Only one person per household can leave home to go shopping for necessary goods and services.
However, if going shopping means leaving an “at-risk person” at home alone, they may accompany you.
Q: Can home care workers take their clients out for a walk?
A: Yes. You can exercise with one other person. Keep 1.5 metres apart and don’t walk for longer than one hour.
Q: Can I visit my loved one in a nursing home?
A: For emotional and social support that can not be delivered online, one visitor is permitted per day for one hour.
Visits for essential care and support are permitted for as long and as often as the care takes, but visits are limited to one person.
Exceptions must be made in certain circumstances, for example, in cases of palliative care.
Individual providers may have their own visitor restrictions during the pandemic.
Q: Do I need to call ahead if I’m visiting a loved one in a nursing home?
A: No, but it’s probably a good idea to avoid disappointment. Some providers may limit the number of visitors per day.
Q: Can I catch public transport to my job at an aged care facility?
A: Ideally aged care workers should avoid public transport, however it is not banned.
Note that a reduced public transport schedule will be in place during curfew hours, so plan carefully.
When catching public transport you must wear a face covering and keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others. Wash your hands before you leave home and when you return.
Q: Can I shop for my home care client and then visit the supermarket again later in the day to shop for my own family?
A: If you are shopping for a different household, you may make a seperate trip to the shops. However, try to minimise the amount of time you are out in the community.
Q: Do I need to wear PPE when visiting my home care clients who are well?
A: The DHHS does not recommend using PPE for all clinical or personal care when COVID-19 is not suspected.
However, standard infection control precautions should be adhered to. For example, practice hand hygiene and use an apron and gloves when helping with showering.
Click here to find out more about the DHHS guidelines for aged care workers.
Click here to find out more about Level 4 restrictions.
(Answers apply to Melbourne only. See your own state or region’s websites for details specific to your situation.)