The world we know has changed significantly over the last few months. Some of the things we took for granted are not possible at the moment. Even though there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, in many areas we still need to exercise some caution.

One which has been in the media spotlight is visiting residential aged care facilities. There have been many opinions regarding what should or should not be occurring. The effects of COVID-19 on individuals in homes overseas and interstate has been devastating. However, it is not always as simple as it seems.

Due to many variables – including the location of home, the mix of residents, the environment and the staffing cohort – each home has needed to undertake a risk assessment. As a result, providers have determined the best course of action to maintain the safety and wellbeing of residents. This is why some of the restrictions have varied between homes, both across the state and nationally. The residents themselves have also had a chance to voice their thoughts.

The aged care industry needs your help. If you are planning to visit someone in a home, you now need to have a flu shot to gain entry. This is a legislated requirement that also includes staff, other healthcare providers and contractors. You also may be asked to complete a declaration and have your temperature taken.

Visiting hours may be shorter and you must maintain appropriate social distancing. Good hand hygiene is also vital, and you may be asked to use hand sanitiser on entering and exiting the residence. If you have any sense of being unwell, it is important you stay away.

If you have any concerns, please speak to the management of the home.

As providers, we understand that this has been a particularly challenging time for residents and their loved ones. We thank you for helping us as we work together to protect our older people in care.

Mel Ottaway is Executive Manager, Services for Older People, at Uniting Communities