Dear residents, families, friends and staff,
NSW Health Advice to residential aged care facilities
We hope you are keeping well and staying safe. We have received a number of enquiries from family members of our residents in relation to visitation to their loved ones in our care homes. While we absolutely understand how much you’d like to see your loved ones, there are Public Health Orders, stay-at-home Orders, and NSW Health Chief Health Officer Advice in place, specifically for residential aged care facilities.
We therefore write to you and provide you an update on how things are going in our care homes and how we are managing COVID-Safe practice day in and day out.
Firstly, we would like to confirm that all staff (100%) including contractors at Jesmond care homes have been fully vaccinated with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. We also have a very high COVID vaccination rates for residents at 96%, with the exception of a very small number of medically exempt individuals. Both staff and residents COVID vaccination rates are above the industry average.
Secondly, we will continue to have screening testing in place for staff and residents to identify any concerns early.
Thirdly, we’d like to provide an update on the Advice from the Chief Health Officer to residential aged care facilities below:
By 31 October 2021 any health practitioners attending a residential aged care facility under arrangement by the resident must have at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.
All facilities must:
- In stay at home areas exclude all visitors, except those providing essential caring functions and end of life visits.
- ensure that all essential care visitors wear a surgical mask. For reasons when masks can be removed please see Additional Advice.
- ensure all essential visits must be in the resident’s room or a designated area.
Visitors must not enter an RACF at all if they:
- have been to any close, casual or monitor for symptoms locations in NSW in the last 14 days
- have been in a stay at home area in the last 14 days and are not an essential visitor
- have been to Victoria or the Australian Capital Territory in the past 14 days unless providing essential caring functions or for end of life visits.
- have been to any close and casual contact places of high concern in Victorian, Queensland or the Australian Capital Territory.
- have been in New Zealand in the last 14 days
- have COVID-19 symptoms
- are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and are within their isolation period.
- live in a household with a person who is currently isolating.
- are waiting for a COVID-19 test result.
Residents currently under stay at home Orders
- Residents are permitted to leave the facility to exercise (go for a walk) provided they;
- remain within 1km of the facility
- do not interact with other people outside of the facility
- wear a facemask or carry a medical certificate or other written evidence signed by a registered health practitioner or a statutory declaration by the person saying they have a physical or mental health illness or condition which prohibits them from wearing a facemask
- are risk assessed by the facility that they are capable of undertaking exercise in a COVID safe way
- Residents should not leave the facility except for essential reasons (e.g. medical appointments).
- Facilities must ensure that residents are provided with appropriate PPE and infection control advice if they need to leave the facility for essential purposes.
All facilities in NSW must ensure that all staff wear a surgical mask. For reasons when masks can be removed please see Additional Advice.
No non-essential staff are permitted in facilities. Staff that are considered necessary for operational purposes must be assessed for risk of exposure in determining their suitability for work in the facility.
Staff must not enter the facility at all if they:
- are a close or casual contact of COVID-19, prior to completing their isolation and testing requirements. (Staff who are casual contacts are no longer excluded from entry for 14 days from their date of exposure, however should be risk assessed by the facility before returning to work.)
- from 9 September, live in an area of concern and work outside of that area, and are unable to provide evidence of having received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or evidence of an appointment for vaccination before 17 September 2021. On very rare occasions, there may be a medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination. A COVID-19 medical contraindication certificate is required in this circumstance. Staff may be exempted from this exclusion if they have not been in an area of concern for 14 days.
- live in Greater Sydney and work more than 50 km outside of Greater Sydney and have not had a COVID-19 test in the preceding 7 days (evidence of the test must be shown). Greater Sydney still includes Wollongong and the Blue Mountains.
- have been to Victoria or the Australian Capital Territory in the past 14 days and have not had a negative COVID-19 test result
- have been in New Zealand in the last 14 days
- have been to any close and casual contact places of high concern in Victoria, Queensland or the Australian Capital Territory
- have COVID-19 symptoms – fever (37. 5°C or higher) or symptoms of COVID-19
- are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and are within their self-isolation period
- live in a household with a person who is currently self-isolating
- are waiting for a COVID-19 test result (except for surveillance purposes)
Please refer to the NSW Government website for further information about the current rules and restrictions in NSW and permits for workers.
For advice on essential staff who are necessary for operational purposes please and call the local public health unit on 1300 066 055 for a risk assessment and further advice.
We extend our appreciation to you, residents, families and staff, for your ongoing support and understanding during this difficult period of time.