Ottrey Homes closing to visitors

By Liam Nash

In the interest of safety, aged care facility Ottrey Homes has closed its doors to visitors.

Aside from special exemptions, such as those receiving palliative care, these preventative measures have been put in place to protect residents and staff.

Allied health professionals and staff are required to wear masks, while residents are being screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19.

To help residents cope, the facility has incorporated liaison workers to facilitate Facetime visits, spend one-on-one time in rooms with residents, co-ordinate window visits and work co-operatively with families.

Changes have been made to ensure that social distancing is maintained while still ensuring that residents have optimal opportunities for socialisation and stimulation.

Additionally, two new iPads have been purchased to aid Facetime visits, as well as a Tovertafel – a cutting edge piece of interactive technology.

Designed for entertainment, the Tovertafel encourages play, even for people with cognitive or mental barriers.

“It was felt that this tool would benefit the activities/lifestyle program in many ways,” Ottrey Homes chief executive Tracey Gemmill said.

“During our trial it was immediately obvious that the program was providing both stimulation, interest and excitement to the residents with dementia who were using it.”

Mrs Gemmill urged families to stay in touch through window visits, phone calls, Facetime and letters.

NCN Health chief executive Jacque Phillips acknowledged while stripping back visiting is hard on everybody, the key was to establish regular lines of communication.

“The bottom line is visitors are only permitted where essential, when and support is not available electronically,” she said.

“We understand it is a very difficult time for our community and loved ones in care, we encourage family members to stay in touch and do ask the public to be patient.”

Ms Phillips said at its facilities, NCN Health has reduced the number of visitors permitted at hospital and residential aged care to one visitor, for one hour a day.