BASS Coast Health is maintaining a cautious approach to the reintroduction of visitors at its residential aged care services, Kirrak House and Griffiths Point Lodge.

Visits are now by appointment and in consultation with the nurse unit manager of each service. Each resident can host a maximum of two visitors per visit.

Both services have set up formal lounges for the planned visits, offering a private and comfortable space that is available for residents and their loved ones beyond COVID-19.

These lounges will help protect residents and staff, especially given the pandemic is far from over, Bass Coast Health (BCH) said.

“All visitors to each service are screened prior to and on entry to our aged care service,” said Kirrak House nurse unit manager Rebecca Grant.

“This includes screening visitors about their own health, any travel, any contact with anyone who is unwell, any current acute symptoms and a temperature screening.”

It is now a federal government requirement that all visitors provide evidence of a 2020 influenza vaccination before entering a residential aged care service. If there is no evidence of flu vaccination, there is no entry into any service.

BCH is maintaining central registers of all 2020 influenza vaccination records.

“The visits are being planned and coordinated in a manner to allow sufficient time for visits and sufficient cleaning of the lounges between visits,” said Ms Grant.

BCH has increased diversional therapy support in both aged care services. BCH is also facilitating access to pastoral care and small group-based activities and programs to prevent increased loneliness and isolation.

BCH purchased technology to provide residents with more ways of communicating with loved ones and they are ably helped by staff.

“Staff have been very attentive to residents’ mental and emotional health needs during COVID-19, and monitoring for increased signs of concern and escalating as appropriate.”

BCH’s pastoral care coordinator, Michelle Harley, has been supporting residents and staff throughout the pandemic.

Pastoral care can be helpful when residents are feeling anxious, lonely or confused, coping with change, feeling overwhelmed or powerless, or wanting to make decisions.