New Visitor Access Code due to start next Monday – providers must allow regular carers access

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Consultation on the draft Visitor Access Code with the residents, families, providers and staff is due to close at 3pm this Thursday, with the finalised copy of the Code to be in place by next Monday, 11 May – just 10 days after it was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Aged Care Minister, Senator Richard Colbeck last Friday.

You can download a copy of the draft Code here.

As you will see, the principles are not so radical.

Providers must offer a solution for family members to visit relatives – whether it is a dedicated room, the resident’s room, visiting window or other option.

Visitors must abide by the current rules to stay away if sick, have a current flu vaccination, undergo a temperature check and stay in the designated visiting area.

Social distancing measures plus the Aged Care Quality Standards and Charter of Rights all still apply.

The Code also outlines a clear complaints process if residents or families are unhappy with any measures.

Visiting times however is where it will ‘get tricky’ for operators. The Code specifies ‘short’ visits, with longer visits only permitted for residents receiving end-of-life care and “visitors who have a clearly established pattern of involvement in providing a resident’s care and support”.

This second measure may be harder for homes to manage. For example, if Mrs Smith’s husband always comes into to help her eat her lunch and then returns to assist with dinner, that must be accommodated – on top of visits from other family members or friends that meet the two short visits per resident per day rule.

That could result in multiple visits per day that must be provided – and as we reported in Saturday’s issue, are unlikely to be covered by the $205 million in funding announced by the PM to facilitate the visits.

Will operators who don’t have the staff or resources to easily allow visits find themselves facing sanctions?

You can have your say on the Code by emailing before 3pm, Thursday, 7 May.