It has been almost six weeks since we made the difficult but necessary decision to restrict visiting across our aged care homes, with some compassionate exceptions.

This decision was focussed on protecting our vulnerable residents from exposure to COVID-19 as the pandemic developed across our country.

While COVID-19 continues to present a serious and challenging situation, we are relieved that the outbreak has been suppressed earlier than anticipated.

We are also truly thankful that our homes, residents and staff remain unaffected, despite the devastating impact on aged care facilities both interstate and abroad.

With the support of our staff, residents and families, we have ensured the continued safety and wellbeing of the more than 500 elderly South Australians entrusted to our care.

Today UnitingSA’s leaders met to carefully and compassionately review our current visitor restrictions in light of the sustained decrease in cases, the surety of safe entry and visits, the availability of appropriate protective equipment and the Prime Minister’s recent clarification regarding visitation guidelines.

As a result of this assessment, we are pleased to advise that from Monday 4 May we will begin welcoming visitors back into our homes. To ensure ongoing safety, this will need to occur in a restricted capacity and via pre-scheduled visits.

The timing of our revised program coincides with the commencement of the Government’s mandatory flu vaccination rules for visitors which will significantly aid our ability to protect our residents from illness.

While we are pleased that the number of COVID-19 cases across Australia continues to fall, we know that we must remain vigilant. To minimise the risk of infection, our new visitor program includes strict safety precautions in line with the latest government advice.

This means:

  • Visits must be scheduled ahead of time, to ensure we can support social distancing and venue capacity requirements.
  • Visits should occur between 10am and 4pm daily (including weekends) and be limited to a maximum of two hours.
  • All visitors will be required to complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire on entry.
  • All visitors will also have their temperature checked (anyone with a high temperature will not be permitted).
  • Evidence of flu vaccination (or medical contradiction) will be required, along with photo ID.
  • All visitors must practice hand hygiene upon entry and exit and observe social distancing (1.5 metres).
  • A maximum of one visit, of up to two people, per resident, per day is permitted.
  • No children (under 16 years) will be allowed, except on compassionate grounds.
  • Visits should take place in a resident’s room, other designated area or outdoors (not in communal areas).

Additionally, anyone with flu-like symptoms, or who has returned from interstate/international travel or had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days will not be permitted to enter.

We are cautiously hopeful that we will continue to see a low rate of COVID-19 transmission in our community so that we can maintain visits to our homes and further ease restrictions.

We also understand that some family and friends may choose not to visit in order to protect the health of their loved ones, while others may be unable to visit regularly during our restricted hours. Therefore, maintaining virtual connections through video calls and email will continue to be a focus for our care teams.

For more information about our revised visitor program, please refer to the Visitor Guidelines Fact Sheet. It is crucial that families and friends wishing to visit their loved one review this information closely to understand all requirements.

The most important thing that visitors can do in preparation for their visit is to have a flu vaccination and keep evidence of this. When restrictions are relaxed we do not want to have any reason to delay visits with loved ones. For further information, please view our Flu Vaccination Fact Sheet.

We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will undertake a thorough review of our revised visitor program on 1 June 2020.

We look forward to welcoming visitors safely back into our homes and reuniting loved ones.

Visit our coronavirus updates page for the latest information.