As the number of cases of Covid-19 increases, Whanganui rest homes and aged care providers are taking extra precautions to care for their residents.
Certain communal activities and visiting procedures are either being restricted or monitored closely to stop the potential spread of the virus.
Broadview Lifecare and Village chief executive Norah Barlow said they are strictly following every guideline given to them by the Ministry of Health.
At present Broadview Lifecare and Village Whanganui does not have visitor restrictions but all visitors must sign in, certify they have not travelled overseas and have to do all handwashing routines.
“We’re trying to balance up the health and wellbeing of the residents by letting them see their family, see their friends, by making sure they’re not removed from their loved ones.”
Barlow said they are looking at restricting visiting hours and entrances so they are able to carry out a limitation without completely inhibiting the lives of residents.
“The balance is proving hard but we’re very conscious of it and will be monitoring it daily.”
No external contractors, including hairdressers, beauticians, school groups and some nursing students, will be allowed on the premises for the time being.
Barlow said some meals will be served in residents’ rooms but they are still serving most residents in a communal space and will do so for the foreseeable future.
They will also hold smaller group activities.
“We have to do everything to protect as far as we possibly can to prevent it from getting into the home, they’re too vulnerable.”
Ryman Healthcare’s David King said they have followed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s advice to restrict visitor access to all their villages, including Jane Winstone in Whanganui, to guard against the spread of Covid-19.
This includes restricting non-essential visits, visits from children and suspending communal activities such as happy hours and Triple A exercise classes.
“We are checking everyone who comes into Jane Winstone to make sure they are well, checking temperatures and asking people to only visit if absolutely necessary.”
All sporting and community events are also suspended.
“We know these measures may be isolating for some residents. While they may cause a degree of disruption we think it is the right thing to do in the face of this pandemic.”
However, King said they have had a great response from residents’ families and their teams so far.
Summerset Village manager Shelley Walls said Summerset has also put in place preventative measures to keep residents and staff safe from Covid-19.
These include signed declarations of health and travel status for all visitors and increased infection control measures including extra cleaning and advising residents of good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
“This is obviously a fast-moving situation and we are preparing to take further measures to protect our residents from Covid-19. We will be letting our residents and their families know about these changes first.”
Walls said they are grateful for the support of all people who visit the village, from external agency caregivers to tradespeople, for following procedures carefully.
Age Concern Whanganui manager Michelle Malcolm said they are in discussion around the services they will have to cancel or postpone.
“We are putting plans in place on how to ensure people can remain connected through this time.”
Their technology sessions that involve around 10 individuals interacting with 10 Whanganui City College students have had to be postponed.
She said when they have reached a decision they will inform their members and participants immediately.
“We’re being as proactive as possible to put safeguards in place for the community.”