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Keeping our vulnerable residents safe

Tue 23, Jun 2020

mecwacare has worked tirelessly over the past few months to ensure the ongoing health and safety of its special residents in the face of the coronavirus.

It implemented a range of robust infection prevention and control measures that go beyond the official guidance and which contributed to all 13 of its aged care facilities remaining coronavirus-free.

One of the most difficult decisions was to limit visitors to essential visits only, which meant the not-for-profit organisation had to find new, creative and safe ways for its residents and their loved ones to stay connected.

iPads were set up to facilitate face-to-face communication via Skype, Zoom and Facetime and families were encouraged to do outdoor “window visits”.

“But we needed to do more,” mecwacare Chief Executive Michele Lewis said. “There was a lot of anxiety among the mecwacare community and limiting visitor access was having a huge impact on our residents and their loved ones.

“We had to think outside the box, so we came up with the idea to install glass partitions inside our facilities to enhance window visits while minimising risk to our residents.”

mecwacare installed glass partitions in all 13 facilities across Victoria within a week – the first aged care organisation in Australia to provide this safe visiting option. It was quick and cheap to do – but the benefits of the simple gesture were extraordinary.

“These visits provide family members with the opportunity to enter the home, out of the elements, for a limited time and see their loved one in person, which helps to alleviate some of the anxiety people have been feeling during this period of isolation,” Ms Lewis said.

At the mecwacare Simon Price Centre in Mont Albert, the daughter of a couple who has been married for 74 years, was able to visit her parents on Mother’s Day in the “glass viewing room”. It was an emotional reunion after weeks of separation.

Another resident at the mecwacare Malvern Centre received a daily visit from her husband of 60 years before the pandemic, but he initially chose to stay away for safety reasons. Once the window was installed, he was able to visit twice a week and enjoy a cup of tea with his wife.

“These visits mean the world to our residents and while they can never replace a hug, they do help people share precious time together in a safe environment.”

mecwacare is a leading not-for-profit, non-denominational charitable organisation with a reputation for excellence. It has provided care in the community for more than 60 years, offering residential aged care, home care packages, respite care, home care and support, community housing, community programs, disability services and nursing services.

mecwacare supports more than 16,500 people each week through a highly integrated service network operated by more than 2,000 employees and 450 volunteers. Staff are culturally and linguistically diverse, representing 89 nationalities and speaking 98 languages to meet the needs of their clients.

Pictured: mecwacare Jubilee House resident Alan and his wife Judy utilising the enhanced window visit option at the Caulfield North home.

 


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