What ACE Readers had to Say: The Aged Care Quality Standards One Year On

Last week CompliSpace released the Aged Care Impact Report – One Year On. The Report revealed that the burden of adjusting to the new Aged Care Quality Standards and also coping with a once in 100-year pandemic are straining the aged care sector, putting staff retention at risk and pointing to reduced capacity to care for residents.

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How to Communicate with Aged Care Consumers and Their Families About COVID-19

ACE has recently learned that some local Public Health Units (PHUs) are advising residential aged care providers to write to consumers’ families to inform them of what would happen in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

This raises the question: what should providers do when it comes to communicating about COVID-19, and what resources are available to help them do it?

 

How to Communicate Your Plans and Preparation to Consumers/Residents and their Families

Key Resources

 

What You Should Do

Here’s a summary of what the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre and LASA advise:

  • Ensure you have an up to date list of all residents’ representatives, with contact details.
  • Speak to each representative. Reassure them about your outbreak management plan. Get permission to share their contact details with government authorities and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). Assure the representative that you won’t use their contact details for other purposes such as marketing.
  • Set up a regular email alert and regular updates on your website to keep residents’ families informed. Include information (including contact details) about OPAN and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
  • Ensure residents have access to technology such as phones and tablets that they can use to keep in touch with their families. Consider consumers’ preferences and any sensory impairments they would need to overcome in the use of technology.
  • Talk to families and residents about their advanced care directives and COVID-19 – consider adding a clause to permit receiving active treatment in the case of a COVID-19 positive case.
  • Talk to families and residents about managing visitor restrictions in the event of an outbreak.
  • Have your own 1800 phone number and covid@ email address with a plan to man it 24/7 by a roster of people who know the residents, to deal with family enquiries.
  • Consider equipping the team with smart phones or iPads to use for communication with families and provide them with training on usage.
  • Set up virtual conference facilities such as MS teams, Skype or Zoom, to communicate with families.
  • Share your communication plans with staff, residents and their families, get their feedback and use it to improve the plan.
  • Consider what happens with family in the event of death, including liaison with funeral directions and arrangements for certification.

 

How to Communicate to Consumers/Residents and their Families in the Event of an Outbreak

Key Resources

 

What You Should Do

Here’s a summary of what the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, Department of Health and LASA advise:

  • Communicate with all residents first. News of an outbreak should be conveyed by a familiar, trustworthy person who can reassure residents.
  • Before communicating with a resident’s representatives, make sure you have the resident’s consent (unless the resident does not have capacity to consent, in which case consent should be obtained from the consumer’s nominated representative).
  • Phone the nominated person for a COVID-19 positive resident at the earliest possible opportunity. This call should be made by a member of the clinical team who should explain the situation sensitively. With the consumer’s consent as appropriate, ask the representative to pass on the information to other family members and friends.
  • Contact the Australian Government Department of Health by emailing agedcareCOVIDcases@health.gov.au
  • Contact your Public Health Unit.
  • Contact all staff and inform them of the COVID-19 positive case. Include information on education and support to enable safe use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and availability of hotel or onsite accommodation if staff need to self-quarantine.
  • Inform all residents’ families (via the nominated representative) by phone of the fact there is a confirmed COVID-19 positive case or suspicion of a positive case within the Home. Reassure the representative and tell them that they need to pass this information on to other family and friends as appropriate.
  • Advise all residents’ representatives and families of how communications will proceed from here.
  • Distribute a message via email and website providing information about the COVID-19 outbreak and the activities of the Australian Department of Health and State health authorities to manage the situation. Reassure families that care of the residents is the utmost priority. Provide contact details for the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), (call 1800 700 600 for support) and the Aged Care Safety and Quality Commission’s free Complaints Resolution Service (1800 951 822).
Mark Bryan
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Mark Bryan
Mark is a Legal Research Consultant at CompliSpace and the editor for ACE. Mark has worked as a Legal Policy Officer for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and the NSW Department of Justice. He also spent three years as lead editor for the private sessions narratives team at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts/Law from the Australian National University with First Class Honours in Law, a Graduate Diploma in Writing from UTS and a Graduate Certificate in Film Directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

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