Aged care closure ‘taking a toll’


By Jessica Micallef

Aged care residents are no longer allowed visits from their families and social distancing measures have been put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staff at Warrina Aged Care in New Gisborne have implemented new restrictions at the facility to ensure the health of residents and staff is protected.

Lifestyle co-ordinator Jenna Coghlan said visitors were no longer allowed in to the aged care centre.

“We do have a few residents that are doing FaceTime with their families, which is good,” she said,

“We are trying to keep them involved to see their families but we don’t have any visitors coming in.

“We are also reducing agency – if we are short staffed and we don’t have anyone, then we will call an agency company to get one of their carers to come in and help.

“So we are not having people come in that we don’t know where they have been.

“We’ve got two palliative [residents] at the moment and their families are able to come in.

“We’ll check their temperature, sanitise and wash their hands and then they answer a questionnaire as well.”

To follow federal and state government guidelines of social distancing, residents at the New Gisborne aged care have been forced to stay four metres apart from each other.

Activities have been shortened to 30 minutes and only five residents at a time can take part in those activities. Residents are also required to eat their meals in their own room.

“We have been doing bingo down the hall so residents from their rooms come out near their doors,” Ms Coghlan said.

“It’s every second or third door that will do bingo like that. We are doing what we can at the moment.”

Ms Coghlan said a lot of the residents were “confused and annoyed” at not being able to see their family.

“They are struggling,” she said.

“We go around to each room every day, checking up on them and making sure they’re OK.

“There is no anxiety, they all seem to be quite happy and upbeat when we are all around and that’s all they really want.”

She said amid all the uncertainty and confusion, staff are doing everything they can.

“We’ve implemented the kindness program which is between some of our residents .. and a couple of childcares from Sunbury,” Ms Coghlan said.

“We have sent off photos and a little bit of a brief outline on those residents and their history and they have brought back drawings and letters. Now we are making up Easter cards for the kids.

“We are also contacting some pen pals. We have a pen pal in Canada and we have pen pals within our facility here for residents to get to know each other a little bit more.

“The staff are doing an amazing job. It’s taking a toll on us but everyone is staying positive and happy for the residents.

“It’s our new normality now and that’s scary.”