AGED care homes across Ballarat are rolling out closures to visitors in light of Australian Health Department moves to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Some residential organisations The Courier spoke this week said could be a tough call for loved ones but they were locking down and shutting down external visitors to protect the community's vulnerable as per health department recommendations this week.
Where the move was causing issues for residential aged care, they said, was in allowing suppliers on site.
Bupa Aged Care in Delacombe has moved from a screening process on signing in late last week to reducing all visitors.
Bupa Villages and Aged Care Australia managing director Suzanne Dvorak said this followed on from work already underway on outbreak prevention and managing infection control across all their homes.
Latest measures include pre-booked and restricted visiting times, gowning-up, one-visitor limit per resident per day and only within a resident's room and temperature checks. There are compassionate exemptions, for example, visiting those receiving palliative care.
"We understand this may be hard for you and your loved ones. We will do everything we can to assist with telephone or other remote contact if you cannot visit during this period," Ms Dvorak said in a statement to The Courier.
Ballarat Health Services acute operations executive director Ben Kelly urged visitors to all BHS sites to consider how necessary the visit was.
It was unclear whether BHS aged care sites were in lockdown, other than Mr Kelly's statement that: "We will be making changes to the access to our sites including the Base Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Centre and aged care facilities. We ask that you follow signage and listen to staff."
Federal government advice is also for reduced visitor access to paliative care wards.
Health Department measures aim to prioritise protection for Australians aged over 60, particularly those with chronic conditions.
Dementia Australia chief executive officer Maree McCabe on Tuesday called for those caring for people living with dementia, including at home, to be mindful of extra support in what was a fast changing scenario with much general confusion.
Ms McCabe said, depending on the progression of the disease, following protocols and reading information was not always possible for a person living with dementia.
"The ability to follow instructions or how to alert health professionals or other staff about potential symptoms may be a challenge, especially where there is limited capacity to communicate verbally or express pain and discomfort," Ms McCabe said.
She suggested offering video calls and phone calls for family and friends unable to visit loved ones or if needed to offer reassurance.
If routines are disrupted by less visitors, changes in scheduled activities or staff, Ms McCabe said time must be dedicated to informing, reassuring and regularly checking in with people living with dementia.
This follows a call from Ballarat Community Health chief Sean Duffy to check in on all vulnerable people as community activity slowed or ceased.
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