Friday 20th March, 2020 is a day that will be firmly etched in the memory of the Moran Engadine team and its residents, it was the day that one of the much-loved resident community was confirmed as positive COVID-19.

A 78-year old resident complained of a mild sore throat just three days earlier and as a precaution was placed in isolation, then screened for a range of influenza and respiratory virus’ including COVID-19.

When the positive COVID-19 result was returned, Moran had already identified nineteen team members who had been in contact with the resident. All nineteen employees commenced 14-day self-isolation as a precaution and are now back at work, with no further cases of COVID-19 identified.

As a standard precaution, assessments were made of all residents with cold like symptoms, as a result six residents had precautionary screening for COVID-19, all returned negative

It is now understood that the resident may have become infected during a trip to a medical appointment outside of Moran Engadine on the 13th March. The resident has now recovered, having only experienced mild symptoms and has now tested negative to COVID-19.

Said General Manager, Mary Gibbs “As frightening as this was for everyone involved, it demonstrates that by being pro-active and maintaining sound infection control we can and did avoid the spread of this virus in our home.”

Throughout this period the Moran Engadine team showed exceptional commitment and dedication to care and support of their residents. Some team members stayed overnight, others made huge sacrifices to their own personal lives and families by staying at Moran Engadine for almost two weeks to ensure that they minimised the risk of infection to other residents and to protect their own family members.

Staff were hands on and selfless

Peter Moran, Managing Director, Moran Health Care Group, said, “I am genuinely proud and impressed by the team who really showed how much they care about their residents.

“In the last month we have seen a whole new world of caring in our homes.

“With nineteen key team members in isolation for fourteen days, immense pressure was placed on the remaining team.

“This has required a selfless, hands-on approach with people working extra hours, learning new skills, volunteering their personal time and embracing new ways of supporting residents and each other.

“I would like to congratulate and thank each team member who stepped up and showed their true self during this time.”

Moran received help and guidance from the local Public Health Unit who fast tracked testing and the Geriatric Flying Squad (a team of medical specialists) were a great resource in maintaining the health and wellbeing of residents.

Moran Engadine’s handling of the COVID-19 case has been recognised by Associate Professor Peter Gonski, Geriatrician (South Eastern Sydney LHD) who congratulated the team on “doing a really great job”.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Deputy Director, South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit said, “Following identification of COVID-19 in one resident of Moran Engadine Aged Care Facility, the facility worked closely and collaboratively with the local Public Health Unit and Geriatric Services to manage and monitor the risk to other residents and staff. The incident management team was led by the facility General Manager with daily input from the Public Health Unit and District Geriatric Services.

“The Public Health Unit noted that Moran Engadine already had comprehensive infection control measures in place, and continuation of these measures was successful in preventing further spread of COVID-19.”

A model for other outbreaks

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard praised staff for their proactive approach.

“NSW Health staff assured me the staff there have worked extremely well with NSW Health, and they absolutely pre-empted some of the new requirements that are now in place, such as the restrictions on visitors,” he said.

“They were actually testing their residents proactively. That was how this resident was identified.

“So, I want to thank that aged care facility and say to other aged care facilities, We would like you to do what this facility has done and others that are doing.”

Infection control measures remain in place

Moran Engadine is continuing with the infection control measures implemented during the COVID-19 infection as an added precaution.

Moran General Manager, Mary Gibbs said, “We need to remain vigilant with our infection control measures as the virus is easily spread within the community and transmission can occur without people realising.”

The Engadine community provided support in a very different and creative way. Literally hundreds of gifts, handwritten messages, cards and pictures of support have been placed in the newly installed, mega mailbox at the front of the building.

Ms Gibbs said, “I can’t begin to tell you how overwhelmed we and our residents are with gratitude and thanks for everyone who thought about us and wanted to do and say something nice to keep us all going.”

A highlight has been the colourful drawings and letters sent by local school children, Early Learning Centres, Pre-schools and Kindergartens. These lovely gifts have been a great inspiration to residents, many of whom have been inspired to get creative themselves.

Technology has played a huge part in maintaining the social wellbeing of residents as all Moran homes have been in lockdown since midnight 17th March with no visitors permitted except employees and GPs.

This has understandably been difficult for families and residents but has played an important role in protecting residents and employees from the risk of infection. During this time Moran has invested heavily in iPads for its homes which are used to connect residents to the outside world. FaceTime family hook ups have been extremely popular combined with the use of a mobile device app called CareApp, which the Moran team use to take photos and short videos of residents which they share with family members.

Moran residents should also be recognised for their resilience and patience during the crisis. They go about their daily routines as usual; adapting well to changes to some routines and activities to accommodate social distancing.

Overall, residents have embraced new ways of staying connected and although they can’t wait to see their families in person, they want them to know that they are fine, they don’t want their families to worry about them.

Image: Somkhana Chadpakdee, iStock.

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