COVID-19 pandemic: Whiddon Laurieton and Uniting Mingaletta repond to Victoria's rise of cases in aged care

Region's aged care centres face COVID as 'serious situation'

A concerning rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Victorian aged care centres has prompted Port Macquarie-Hastings facilities to ensure strict health protocol is in place.

"This is a very serious situation for any aged care provider," a spokesperson for Whiddon Laurieton said.

"As a responsible provider we have gone to great lengths to ensure all staff in our Whiddon homes have undergone training and are provided with regular updates on infection control practices."

On Thursday, July 30 Victoria recorded 723 more COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths, Australia's biggest single-day spike.

Outbreaks at aged care centres continue to be at the heart of Victoria's coronavirus crisis.

Whiddon's aged care centres have processes in place, aligned with Department of Health guidelines, should an outbreak occur.

"We have strong infection control procedures in place," a Whiddon Laurieton spokesperson said.

"This hasn't changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic."

The spokesperson acknowledged the situation is changing rapidly and Whiddon homes are in a number of hotspots in NSW and south-east Queensland.

"However, Whiddon has no positive cases of COVID-19 amongst its staff or residents," she said.

"Laurieton is not currently a hotspot, however all staff have been trained in the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

"Our current policy, in line with NSW Health directives, is for our teams to wear PPE, including face masks, as a precautionary measure when required.

"They understand the importance of ensuring everyone within the home is kept safe."

The company is in regular contact with staff to remind them to protect themselves and others with safe practices.

A spokesperson for Uniting Mingaletta Port Macquarie said the safety and wellbeing of residents and team members is absolutely critical.

"We'll continue to work closely with the relevant agencies to ensure their safety and to prevent the spread of the virus," he said.

Uniting's chief executive Tracey Burton recently wrote an opinion piece stating the crisis in Victoria's aged care centres was foreseeable and patients should have been transferred to hospital sooner.

"Residential aged care homes are "homes"," she said.

"They're not hospitals. "Hospital in the hospital" treatment is safer, simpler and offers an immediate and comprehensive response with access to all specialties."

The centre's pandemic plan includes additional training for employees, such as the proper process for using personal protective equipment (PPE).

"Our team members have also participated in weekly PPE training sessions to ensure continued quality of care," the spokesperson said.

"We have also taken the additional precaution of setting up 15 regional PPE hubs across NSW and the ACT, where we can distribute emergency supplies as needed."

The centre's spokesperson said they will continue to follow government guidance, and remain vigilant as transmissions increase in parts of the community.

Whiddon Laurieton and Uniting Mingaletta did not respond to questions regarding if a registered nurse was available on a 24 hour basis or what feedback they had received from families of residents.

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