40% of aged care homes still don’t have systems to allow remote visits between residents and families: visitor access survey

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A “small majority” of aged care homes are still relying on paper-based systems to record visitors and residents’ travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey of 95% of providers by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC).

The 20-page survey – which was carried out between 16 December 2020 and 19 January 2021 and received responses from 2,559 services – asked respondents to provide high-level information about how they manage visitor access and whether they placed restrictions on residents travelling outside the service in a COVID-normal world.

While the majority of services had “appropriate processes” in place for managing visitor access, the survey found there was a “greater reluctance” to allow residents to leave the service and return without restrictions.

“Some 40% of services imposed restrictions on residents travelling outside the service, with most of these services indicating that they only imposed specific restrictions on external travel in accordance with current Public Health Directions.”

The Quality and Safety Commission was critical of the approximately 40% of services that didn’t have systems to facilitate contact between residents and families during lockdowns.

“For the health and wellbeing of residents, it is vital that residents have a continuous connection with their families/representatives, even when physical contact is restricted,” they write.

The report also questioned the number of services using paper-based records of visitors entering and residents travelling outside the service.

“This manual record keeping may be less accurate and may make it harder to compile complete information for contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the service or local community.”

The message: providers should avoid blanket restrictions – and do more to protect residents’ wellbeing and provide communication with families.

You can download the full report here.